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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, October 3rd (All times Eastern)

Florida Panthers (0-0-0) at Dallas Stars (0-0-0), 8:30 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Dallas Stars will unveil their new look in the regular season for the first time on Thursday night when they play host to the Florida Panthers.

It was an offseason of change for the Stars, who missed the playoffs for a fifth straight year last season. They hired a new general manager in Jim Nill and brought in Lindy Ruff to be the new head coach.

Ruff, former longtime head coach of the Buffalo Sabres, is the 22nd head coach in club history and seventh since the club relocated to Dallas. He is the 12th-winningest head coach in league history and one of only 17 to reach the 500-win mark.

The 53-year-old will get an early chance to impress the home crowd as the Stars play two straight in Dallas to begin the season before playing five of six on the road.

"I'm psyched. I can't wait. I am disappointed that we have one more night to go. It's fun. You have that anxiety to get it going," Ruff told the Stars' official website of opening the season. "It's not just another game. It's the start of something really new. It's something really exciting. I don't look at it as just another game. It's a lot of different guys that we've put together and a lot of guys that have gotten along well together as a team. I am excited to see that develop."

In addition to new uniforms and logos, Dallas will have plenty of fresh faces on the ice. The Stars swung a deal with the Boston Bruins on July 4 to get talented but controversial forward Tyler Seguin as well as veteran Rich Peverley for a package of players that included NHLer Loui Eriksson.

Dallas also traded for another veteran in center Shawn Horcoff and added the 39-year Sergei Gonchar to the blue line.

Forward Valeri Nichushkin, the 10th overall pick of the 2013 draft, is also expected to debut tonight, while Jaime Benn will play his first game as the club's captain. He led the Stars with 33 points in 41 games last season.

Dallas has won each of its last three home openers and is 11-0-3 in its last 14 such games. Kari Lehtonen is likely to get the start in net to try and extend that streak after going 15-14-3 with a 2.66 goals against average and .916 save percentage in 36 appearances last campaign.

Ruff is also expected to have defenseman Trevor Daley in the lineup tonight as he returns from neck surgery, though Peverley isn't likely to play until the weekend because of an irregular heartbeat.

Defenseman Aaron Rome is a few weeks away from returning from hip surgery.

The Florida Panthers begin their 20th anniversary season on a four-game road trip and less than a week after being sold to businessman Vincent Viola. The Panthers added several veterans after the sale, including goaltender Tim Thomas.

Thomas will get the start tonight, his first NHL action since April 25, 2012 during the postseason with Boston. The two-time Vezina Trophy winner had a ton of success with the Bruins from 2002-12, winning a Stanley Cup with the club, but took a leave of absence from the league last year.

"I think there's a positive energy," said the 39-year-old Thomas. "They're really looking forward to growing and getting better in the organization. I think new ownership brought a very positive direction to the team."

The Panthers were in need of goaltending help due to knee surgery undergone by Scott Clemmensen. He begins the season on injured reserve, while captain Ed Jovanovski (hip surgery) and forward Sean Bergenheim (hip/abdominal surgery) are also out.

The Panthers snapped a 10-season playoff drought in the spring of 2012, but finished dead last in the league a season ago. They struggled at both ends of the ice, but have a host of young talent to build on.

That includes left winger Jonathan Huberdeau, last season's Calder Trophy winner who ended the season tied for the lead in rookie scoring with 31 points on 14 goals and 17 assists. He'll be joined on opening night by 18-year-old forward Aleksander Barkov, the second overall pick of the 2013 draft.

Dmitry Kulikov, 22, and 21-year-old Erik Gudbranson off youth at the blue line alongside veterans Brian Campbell and eventually Jovanovski.

The Panthers have won three of their last four versus the Stars, claiming a 6-0 road victory in the last meeting on Nov. 15, 2011. Clemmensen stopped all 25 shots he faced.

Florida has won three straight and five of its last six in Dallas, having not lost there since Dec. 7, 2005.

10/03 14:31:20 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
2nd
CAR 2
TOR 0
 
1st
DUKE 20
UCONN 13
 
1st
CHI 21
NYK 17
 
8:30pm Tonight
HOU
NOP
10:00pm Tonight
SAC
MIL
10:30pm Tonight
GSW
OKC
Final
RICE 72
STTHOMASTX 61
 
2nd
UVA 59
CLST 44
 
2nd
LIU 62
FIU 53
 
2nd
STET 58
GSOUT 61
 
2nd
QUIN 69
LEH 50
 
2nd
SFLA 51
SHU 67
 
2nd
RICH 48
SALA 46
 
2nd
CAN 41
USB 36
 
2nd
DEL 55
TEMPL 70
 
2nd
WCU 47
WRST 49
 
2nd
VERM 47
YALE 50
 
2nd
SDKST 32
IDST 32
 
Half
RIDE 29
MRGST 27
 
Half
LATU 42
NICST 28
 
1st
CHAR 20
APP 23
 
1st
MISS 16
CCAR 28
 
1st
DUKE 20
UCONN 13
 
1st
BRAD 29
EUREK 14
 
1st
PEAY 28
OAKC 12
 
1st
JST 17
SMISS 6
 
8:30pm Tonight
SD
MNTST
 
9:00pm Tonight
UAB
LSU
9:05pm Tonight
EVAN
OHIO
 
10:00pm Tonight
CSFU
CSDH
 
10:00pm Tonight
ORST
DEP
10:00pm Tonight
PAC
NEV
10:00pm Tonight
USF
PORST
 
10:00pm Tonight
IDAHO
WALLA
 
10:05pm Tonight
UTST
CALST
 
2nd Intermission
PIT 0
COL 0
 
2nd
PHI 1
FLA 1
 
2nd
CAR 2
TOR 0
 
2nd
CLB 2
WAS 2
 
1st
MON 0
ANA 1
 
10:30pm Tonight
SJS
EDM
10:30pm Tonight
LOS
STL
1st
JAC 0
TEN 0