GAME: St. Louis Blues (34-27-11-2) at Dallas Stars (37-24-13-0).
TIME: Saturday, 3 p.m. EST.
No team should be more focused on clinching home-ice than the Dallas Stars.
Dallas will look to extend the longest home unbeaten streak in franchise
history to 17 games when it faces the St. Louis Blues for the final time this
Marty Turco continued his Vezina Trophy-caliber season with his eighth
shutout, and Jason Arnott and Bill Guerin each had a goal and two assists in
the Stars' 3-0 victory over Vancouver on Thursday.
Philippe Boucher also scored for Dallas, 12-0-4 at home since a 4-2 loss to
Colorado on Jan. 10. The 16-game home unbeaten streak is the longest in the NHL
since Detroit put together a 19-game run from Dec. 31-April 7, 2001.
Although the Stars still trail San Jose for the Pacific Division lead, they
are challenging Vancouver for fourth place in the Western Conference. The top
four teams are guaranteed home-ice in the opening round of the playoffs.
Dallas rebounded with a strong performance after it allowed three goals in
the final 6:03 against San Jose on Tuesday and settled for a 3-3 tie.
"This says our guys really care about what they're doing," Stars coach
Dave Tippett said. "The character factor came in. We were disappointed in the
results (against the Sharks). You can't be up and down like a yo-yo."
Turco has an excellent chance of being one of the finalists for the Vezina
Trophy as the league's top goalie. He leads the NHL in minutes played, is
second with 33 wins and ranks seventh with a 2.01 goals-against average.
The Blues temporarily moved into a playoff spot with a 1-1 tie at Anaheim on
Ryan Johnson scored in the second period and Reinhard Divis stopped 28 shots
in a rare start, helping St. Louis improve to 5-1-2 during its late-season run.
The Blues, who have made the playoffs for 24 straight seasons, will enter
play Saturday with a two-point lead over Los Angeles in the four-team race for
the final two playoff berths in the West.
"Every game seems like a playoff game, and it has to be that way the rest
of the year because it's so tight in the Western Conference," Blues forward
Keith Tkachuk said. "Every team controls their own destiny, and that's the
same for us."
Although Divis played well in his eighth start of the season, Chris Osgood
figures to be back in net Saturday. Osgood is 4-1-2 following a personal
six-game winless streak (0-4-2).
STANDINGS (through March 18): Blues - 81 points, 2nd place, 16 PB, Central
Division. Stars - 87 points, 2nd place, 3 PB, Pacific Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Blues - Tkachuk, 30 goals and 66 points; Doug Weight, 46
assists; Mike Danton, 141 PIM. Stars - Guerin, 32 goals and 63 points; Arnott,
35 assists; Steve Ott, 148 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 18): Blues - Power play: 17.5 percent (55 for
314), 9th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.6 percent (292 for 345), 10th. Stars -
Power play: 16.2 percent (49 for 303), 18th. Penalty killing: 85.5 percent (235
for 275), 5th.
GOALTENDERS: Blues - Osgood (26-23-8, 2 SO, 2.28 GAA); Divis (4-3-2, 2.84).
Stars - Turco (33-21-13, 8, 2.01); Ron Tugnutt (3-3-0, 1, 1.95).
SEASON SERIES: Stars, 2-1.
LAST MEETING: Jan. 24; Stars, 3-2. At St. Louis, David Oliver scored one
goal and set up another, and Turco stopped 19 shots, leading Dallas to a
home-and-home sweep of St. Louis.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blues - 14-17-4-2 on the road; Stars - 24-6-8-0 at home.