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Blues, Stars showing they still have fight left

by Matthew Mankiewich
STARS (35-29-14) at BLUES (37-31-9)

Last 10 -- Dallas 6-3-1; St. Louis 5-5-0

Season series --
Final meeting of the season, the three previous ones going to the visiting team. Last time they met on Mar. 4, both were knocking on the playoff door, Dallas two points behind then eighth-seeded Detroit and St. Louis one. Neither, however, has been able to go on the kind of tear the Blues needed to get into the playoffs last year.

Big story --
Not without a fight. That seems to be the motto for both teams right now as they cling to ever-diminishing playoff hopes. The Stars continued their dominance of the Oilers at home with a 6-3 win Friday night that brought them within five points of the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference with eight points still on the table, thanks to Calgary's win in Colorado and the resulting point tie between them in the standings. The Blues remain six points out.

Team scope:

Stars -- When Mike Modano underwent an appendectomy March 15, his return was uncertain. It gave him a chance to contemplate his future and whether that includes another season of hockey. Modano has been with the Stars franchise since he was drafted with the No. 1 pick in 1988 and followed the team when it moved from Minnesota to Dallas. He has 13 goals and 16 assists in 55 games this season.

"I think about it," Modano told "If things don't work out over the course of the month or two after the season, that could be it."

That statement was made before a two-assist performance Friday night in just over 12 minutes of ice time. Still, his parents plan on being there for the last game of the regular season in Minnesota Apr. 10.

"I don't know if that one is going to be it," Modano said. "But it is kind of rare and ironic if it ends in Minnesota."

Blues --
While the Stars do what they can to stay alive, the Blues are still smarting from a golden opportunity lost, blowing a two-goal lead to the Predators Thursday night, resulting in a 3-2 defeat and another step closer to elimination.

But the comments goalie Chris Mason made afterward, saying that "some guys showed up and worked as hard as they could and some guys didn't," have reverberated throughout the locker room and beyond.

"It's an emotional reaction, obviously," captain Eric Brewer said. "Guys are frustrated … we're not where we want to be. When you don't win the game, sometimes emotion gets the better of you.

"As for 'Mase,' he's a great guy and he's a good teammate. I think it's a general statement, certainly not one directed to stir the pot or whatever. Obviously he's just very frustrated where we're at."

Who's hot --
Dallas' Jamie Benn had two goals and an assist in the Edmonton win, while Jere Lehtinen had a goal and two assists, his first points since Mar. 8. … Blues forward Alex Steen has five points in his last three games.

Injury report --
The one question now is whether Paul Kariya (lower body) will be able to play in the game after being honored for his 400th NHL goal Saturday night. He has six of his 18 goals and six assists since the Olympic break.

Stat pack --
The Stars are 7-8-2 since the break, while the Blues are 9-6-0. Brad Richards has no goals against the Blues this year, but leads both teams in points with five assists. Kariya has two goals and an assist in the three games so far.

Puck drop --
"When we don't get results, we've got to hold each other to that, and there's nothing wrong with that. We want to keep it in house. We want to make sure this is where our message is and this is where our message builds." -- Blues coach Davis Payne on Mason's statements.

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