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Blues, Stars look to continue fast starts

by Dave Lozo
BLUES (2-1-0) at STARS (3-0-0)

TV -- FS-MW (HD),TXA 21 (HD)

Season series -- The first of four games between the teams this season. The Blues took three of four meetings last season.

Big story -- Two teams that missed the playoffs last season are off to great starts. They will be looking to compile two very important points here in the early going.

Team Scope:

Blues -- After winning two straight to start the season, the Blues fell 4-3 in Nashville on Thursday. Goaltender Jaroslav Halak, picked up in an offseason trade from the Montreal Canadiens, has allowed just six goals in his first three games. But the Blues didn't have enough to get past the Preds.

"One of our key things that we are working on this year is winning the battles every night, and I don't think we did that in the first," Blues center T.J. Oshie said, referring to the three goals the Blues allowed in the first period against Nashville.

Stars -- They are off to their best start since 2006-07, when they won five straight to start the season. The top line of Brad Richards, James Neal and Loui Eriksson has been clicking. Richards entered Thursday's games tied for the League lead with 7 points. Neal has a goal and 3 assists while Eriksson has 3 goals.

Goaltender Kari Lehtonen also has excelled in place of long-time Star Marty Turco, who signed with the Blackhawks this summer. Lehtonen has a 2.58 goals-against average through three games, and made 25 saves in a 4-1 win against Detroit on Thursday in the Stars' home opener.

"What's nice about it, it doesn't even look like it's that much effort, and when it looks as natural as he's making it look, you have to give him a great deal of credit for his preparation and for his reading the play," coach Marc Crawford said. "Most of the time he was very controlled, he was in position, he was on the shot and that's the sign of a guy that's seeing the puck real well."

Who's hot -- Blues right wing Matt D'Agostini, who had 2 goals in 47 games last season, has 3 goals to start this season. … Entering Thursday's games, Stars center Mike Ribeiro was tied for the League lead with 5 assists.

Injury report -- Blues center Vladimir Sobotka (shoulder) was cleared to practice and could return to the lineup Saturday. … Stars left wing Jamie Benn (concussion) won't be in the lineup.

Stat pack -- Blues center Alex Steen had an assist Thursday for his 200th NHL point. ... The Stars scored on four of their first nine shots against Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood on Thursday.

Puck drop -- "It's very important at the start of the season to gain some momentum. We're fortunate we have the same guys (on his line) from last year, nothing's changed. We're a year older and more experienced. We've talked about it. We're good friends and we talk a lot about the game." -- Richards, on the success of his line this season.
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