The Dallas Stars have gotten some help with their back end from a solid group of players who will likely be in line for an even larger share of the playing time down the stretch.
Stars coach Lindy Ruff said Tuesday that center Patrick Sharp will get the majority of the minutes and Erik Cole will play a big role in helping Dallas win games.
The Stars have scored an average of 2.57 goals per game through the first four games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which is tied for third-most in the NHL.
But Dallas also has some work to do in its own end of the ice.
Dallas has allowed an average per game of 3.33 goals and has allowed more than 3.30 goals in each of its first two games.
So the Stars will need to make some plays in front of the net to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Sharp, who was acquired in a trade with the Detroit Red Wings in January, is among the players who have benefited from the additions of Patrick Eriksson Ek and Tyler Seguin.
Erikson Ek, 23, has played in all but one of Dallas’ five playoff games.
Eavesson Ek, 21, has been a healthy scratch in five of Dallas’s past six games.
“I think Eaves and Eriksons were just kind of out of sync a little bit,” Ruff said.
We’re going to need those two guys to help us out, and I think we can.” “
They’re playing very well, and they’re playing a lot better, and we need them to be even better.
We’re going to need those two guys to help us out, and I think we can.”
Cole has been in the lineup for four straight games.
Cole, who missed all of last season because of a knee injury, has seven points (one goal, five assists) in eight games.
He was a healthy scratches in the Stars’ 5-1 win over the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday.
“He’s getting the opportunity to play,” Ruff told reporters.
He’s playing well.
He knows he’s got to score and do well to be able to play.
We’ll see where he plays next week.
But he’s in a good spot to play.”
Stars center Tyler Sejal has been out with a lower-body injury, which he suffered Monday in his first NHL action.
Ruff said he was told that Sejall would miss at least two more weeks.
Sejaltal, who has been playing with a knee brace, will be assessed a possible concussion later Tuesday.
Stars center Brenden Dillon is also out with an upper-body ailment.
“There’s some minor injuries that we’ve got here, but I think there’s still some things that can happen in the future,” Ruff joked.
The Dallas lineup is also without defensemen Curtis McKenzie, Trevor Daley and Mattias Janmark.
Stars defenseman Johnny Oduya is expected to be a healthy scratched Tuesday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The team is hoping to get Oduy healthy and in a position to start the season in goal, which will require some changes to the team’s defense corps.
Ruff has said that he would prefer to start OduYa against Pittsburgh.
“It’s going to be tough, it’s going the other way,” Ruff added.
“If you’re in the position where you’re just playing a backup role, I think you’re not playing well enough.
We need some new faces on our defensive corps.”
The Stars will be without center Jamie Benn, who suffered a lower body injury in Tuesday’s loss to Detroit.
Benn has four goals and six assists in seven games for Dallas.
“We’re definitely hoping that Jamie Benn can play, and he’ll be back soon,” Ruff continued.
“Hopefully, he’ll come back sooner than later.
He missed a lot of time, but he’ll get better.
Hopefully, we can get some minutes.”
The Penguins (29-27-5) are coming off a 3-2 loss to the Boston Bruins.
Pittsburgh is tied with Chicago for second in the Eastern Conference with 55 points, but has lost four straight.
Pittsburgh has a chance to take control of first place in the Atlantic Division with a victory against the visiting Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.
The Penguins will have to win that game and move into a tie for first place with Columbus for the second wild card spot.
Philadelphia leads the Central Division with 62 points, while Columbus leads the Metropolitan Division with 52.
The Flyers will have two days off before facing the visiting Boston Bruins on Thursday at 8 p.m. on NBCSN.