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Blues-Stars Preview

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Blues-Stars Preview

GAME: St. Louis Blues (11-29-7) at Dallas Stars (31-15-2).

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

The Dallas Stars look to maintain their recent dominance over the St. Louis Blues as the teams meet at the American Airlines Center.

Dallas has won five in a row from St. Louis - owners of the league's worst record - while limiting the Blues to just five goals.

At home, Dallas has been more dominant, losing just once in 10 meetings, a 2-1 overtime setback on April 3, 2002.

Canadian Olympic selection Marty Turco has won his last four starts against St. Louis, recording two shutouts with a 0.75 goals-against average and a .966 save percentage.

Turco helped Dallas snap a season-high three-game losing streak by making 17 saves Monday in a 4-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes.

Turco, who had allowed eight goals in the last 22 shots he faced entering the game, allowing a soft goal from the blue line by Dave Scatchard putting the Stars in an early hole.

It was the eighth time in the last 10 games that the Stars gave up the first goal of the game.

"It was almost a blessing in disguise," Turco said of the blue-line goal. "Battling after that is not easy, especially after what's happened. But we continued playing our game and didn't let it get to us."

Mike Modano, a U.S. Olympic team selection, had two assists in the win. The Stars' all-time scoring leader has three goals and three assists in a three-game scoring streak against St. Louis.

His 30 career goals against St. Louis are his third most against one team. He has scored 31 against Phoenix and the Chicago Blackhawks and 32 against the Los Angeles Kings. He also has 30 career goals against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Blues are coming off perhaps their best game of the season. Curtis Sanford made 34 saves for his third shutout of the season Monday in St. Louis' 4-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks, snapping a nine-game losing streak.

This despite the Canucks' strategy of planting Todd Bertuzzi and Ed Jovanovski in front of the net to obscure the view.

"I was trying to peek over shoulders," Sanford said. "Those are big bodies, and our defense isn't going to move them. It's really tough, so you just have to try and focus on where the puck is all the time and just keep an eye out for it."

Sanford won his only career start against the Stars, stopping 23 shots in a 5-3 win on Oct. 19, 2002.

Mike Sillinger scored for the fifth straight game and needs one goal for his second 20-goal season. He had a career-high 20 tallies in 2001-02 with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

He has just one goal in his last 10 games and just nine in 41 career games against the Stars.

STANDINGS (through Jan. 23): Blues - 29 points, 5th place, 38 PB, Central Division. Stars - 64 points, 1st place, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Blues - Sillinger, 19 goals; Doug Weight, 32 assists and 42 points; Jamal Mayers, 100 PIM. Stars - Jere Lehtinen, 24 goals; Modano and Zubov, 32 assists; Modano, 49 points; Steve Ott, 99 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Jan. 23): Blues - Power play: 15.1 percent (48 for 317), 24th in NHL. Penalty killing: 80.8 percent (231 for 286), 21st. Stars - Power play: 15.8 percent (48 for 303), 20th. Penalty killing: 84.3 percent (253 for 300), 9th.

GOALTENDERS: Blues - Sanford (5-10-3, 3 SO, 2.79 GAA); Reinhard Divis (0-3-0, 0, 4.74). Stars - Turco (23-13-2, 3, 2.57); Johan Hedberg (8-2-0, 0, 2.71).

SEASON SERIES: Stars, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 29; Dallas, 3-0. At Dallas, Bill Guerin scored the first of three Dallas power-play goals, while Turco had 17 saves and recorded his third shutout of the season. Jason Bacashihua had 22 saves for the Blues.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blues - 5-15-4 on the road; Stars - 15-10-1 at home.


Associated Press
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