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Blues-Stars Preview

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Blues-Stars Preview

GAME: St. Louis Blues (9-21-4) at Dallas Stars (23-11-1).

TIME: Thursday, 8:30 p.m. EST.

The Dallas Stars will be looking to regain their home-ice advantage when they meet the St. Louis Blues at American Airlines Center.

The Stars have lost two in a row at home and are 3-3 in their last six games on home ice.

Coach Dave Tippett wants to see more effort, particularly from his best players.

"To win in this league, you need more than effort," Tippett said after Tuesday's 4-1 defeat to the Detroit Red Wings. "You need people to separate themselves. You need your top players to make great plays. You need special things from people. Winning at home is a big part of that."

The Stars have lost three of five overall after winning 15 of their previous 18 games.

Besides playing better at home, Dallas is also looking to jump-start its power play, which has converted only four times in its last 42 chances.

St. Louis has a league-low 22 points and nine wins, but has played better lately, winning three of five.

Rookie Jason Bacashihua stopped 21 shots and Eric Brewer and Dallas Drake scored first-period goals, leading the Blues to a 2-1 victory Wednesday at Chicago.

"(Jason) made a couple of key saves tonight," Blues coach Mike Kitchen said. "He had a very strong game. He was very efficient in his net. He had a lot of good, short, direct moves and was able to make the second saves."

Bacashihua made his sixth straight start and seventh consecutive appearance for the Blues after being recalled from Peoria of the AHL on Dec. 12. He made his NHL debut Dec. 16 against the Blackhawks, replacing Curtis Sanford early in the second period after Sanford was injured.

"It's exciting," Bacashihua said. "A lot of kids dream of being a No. 1 and right now I'm that guy. I just can't let it go to my head. I've just to keep playing well and playing hard."

STANDINGS (through Dec. 28): Blues - 22 points, 5th place, 31 PB, Central Division. Stars - 47 points, 2nd place, 2 PB, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Blues - Mike Sillinger and Dean McAmmond, 11 goals; Doug Weight, 22 assists and 28 points; Jamal Mayers, 83 PIM. Stars - Jere Lehtinen, 19 goals; Modano, Jason Arnott and Brenden Morrow, 22 assists; Modano, 35 points; Steve Ott, 82 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 28): Blues - Power play: 14.5 percent (35 for 241), 27th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.7 percent (174 for 213), 18th. Stars - Power play: 15.6 percent (36 for 231), tied for 20th. Penalty killing: 85.2 percent (190 for 223), 5th.

GOALTENDERS: Blues - Reinhard Divis (0-3-0, 0 SO, 4.74 GAA); Bacashihua (3-2-0, 3.48). Stars - Marty Turco (18-10-1, 2, 2.54); Johan Hedberg (5-1-0, 3.33).

SEASON SERIES: Stars, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 26; Stars, 6-1. At St. Louis, Hedberg had two assists and 25 saves in Dallas' victory.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blues - 5-9-2 on the road; Stars - 10-7-1 at home.


Associated Press
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