Dallas Stars

Stars’ Nichushkin (hip) nearing return

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When Dallas Stars forward Valeri Nichushkin returns to the lineup is now up to the 20-year-old.

Nichushkin, who has been out of the Stars’ lineup since November recovering from hip surgery, continues to practice with the team, but recently had a minor setback.

“It’s his timetable now…when he feels good enough,” Stars’ coach Lindy Ruff said. “We thought we had him close a few days ago, but with the harder practices, he was starting to feel sore and we kind of backed off a little bit. He’s skating really well. It’s just when it reaches that point when he feels he is going to be good enough to play.”

Nichushkin has appeared in just four games this season.

Last season he registered 14 goals and 34 points in 79 games with the Stars.

Goalie nods: Panthers return ‘our MVP’ Luongo for key tilt versus Wings

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All the latest from the blue paint…

Luongo back for Florida

Roberto Luongo will play for the first time since Mar. 3 when the Panthers host the Red Wings in Sunrise this evening.

Luongo, who’s missed the past six games with a shoulder injury, draws back in looking to keep Florida’s playoff hopes alive. The Panthers went an impressive 3-2-1 during his absence with journeyman Dan Ellis in goal, but know their chances of making the postseason are increased greatly with Bobby Loo in net.

“[Luongo] has been our MVP all year long,” Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said, per NHL.com. “He’s been a great player for us and a great leader and a great character. He’s going to come in tonight and try to do his best.

“He’ll work hard and compete hard and I’m sure the guys will be excited to see him.”

Florida heads into tonight’s action seven points back of Boston (the Bruins take on the Sens in Ottawa tonight), but still has three head-to-head matchups remaining against the B’s.

For Detroit, Petr Mrazek gets the call in net tonight.

Elsewhere…

Sharks at Leafs: Antti Niemi vs. Jonathan Bernier

Canes at Habs: Anton Khudobin vs. Carey Price

Bruins at Senators: Tuukka Rask (probable) vs. Andrew Hammond

Blues at Jets: Brian Elliott vs. Ondrej Pavelec

Caps at Wild: Braden Holtby vs. Devan Dubnyk

Pens at Stars: Marc-Andre Fleury vs. Kari Lehtonen (probable)

Flyers at Flames: Steve Mason vs. Karri Ramo

Jackets at Canucks: (No Columbus starter yet) vs. Eddie Lack

Avs at Coyotes: Semyon Varlamov vs. Louis Domingue

Report: Stars bringing another d-man prospect to North America

The Dallas Stars are set to ship over another European d-man for the remainder of this season.

Per Finnish outlet MTV, the Stars will bring Esa Lindell — their third-round pick (74th overall) at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft — from SM-liiga club Assat over to North America, presumably to join their AHL affiliate in Texas.

Lindell, 20, is a promising offensive defenseman that scored 14 goals and 35 points in 57 games this year. He was part of the Finnish team that captured gold at the 2014 World Juniors, finishing third on the team in scoring while leading all Finnish blueliners in points, with five.

He’s also not the first prospect Dallas has decided to bring over recently.

Last week, the club moved Swedish d-man Ludwig Bystrom — Dallas’ second-round pick (43rd overall) at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft — from SHL Farjestads to Texas. A former Swedish League All-Star, Bystrom was just one of the Stars’ young Swedish and Finnish blueline projects, along with Patrick Nemeth, Jyrki Jokipakka, John Klingberg and Julius Honka (and now, Lindell.)

Goalie nods: Lindback, who’s been surprisingly good, goes again for Buffalo

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All the latest from the crease…

Lindback takes on Caps

Anders Lindback will look to continue his personal reclamation project when the Sabres host the Caps in Buffalo.

Acquired from Dallas in the Jhonas Enroth trade, Lindback — who was dreadful as Kari Lehtonen’s backup — has been quite effective since Buffalo dealt Michal Neuvirth to the Isles. The lanky Swede has yet to win a game for the Sabres, yet allowed just 12 goals on 160 shots over a five-game stretch, good for a .925 save percentage and 2.68 GAA.

In his last outing, a 2-0 loss to the Rangers, Lindback stopped 31 of 32 shots for a .969 save percentage. He also did this to Toronto in overtime last week:

For the Capitals, no word yet on who’ll start. Braden Holtby was in for yesterday’s 2-0 win over Boston and could go back-to-back; if not, it’ll be Philipp Grubauer, who’s up from AHL Hershey with Justin Peters injured.

Elsewhere…

Habs at Bolts: Carey Price vs. Ben Bishop

Leafs at Oilers: Jonathan Bernier vs. Ben Scrivens

Coyotes at Kings: (No Arizona starter yet) vs. Jonathan Quick (probable)

Injured Klingberg aims to be ‘more aware’ on ice

Although there was some initial speculation that 22-year-old John Klingberg might be able to return tonight, the Dallas Stars defenseman will miss his third straight game, per the Dallas Morning News’ Steve Hunt.

He hurt his knee during Dallas’ game against Tampa Bay on March 7 when Ryan Callahan caught him in an awkward position. He still managed to play on Tuesday, but Philadelphia’s Zac Rinaldo leveled him during the contest and Klingberg’s shoulder was injured as a result.

Given Klingberg’s recent string of setbacks, being more conscious of his surroundings and position will be an increased focus of his going forward.

“Obviously, I’m not the biggest guy ever, so a team, if they can tackle me and make mistakes out of that, they will want to do that,” Klingberg told the Dallas Morning News. “That’s something I’ve had my whole career, but it’s more over here. Stuff happens faster, and it’s more physical, so I’m going to have to be even more aware.”

Klingberg leads all rookie defensemen with 36 points in 53 games. He also has a plus-five rating and has averaged 21:38 minutes per contest.