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Stars-Blues Preview

GAME: Dallas Stars (36-15-2) at St. Louis Blues (13-31-8).

TIME: Saturday, 2 p.m. EST.

The Dallas Stars look to match a franchise record with seven straight wins when they visit a St. Louis Blues team trying to win consecutive contests for just the second time this season.

The Stars have put together two six-game winning streaks in the last 15 games. The current streak has included three shootout wins and one overtime victory, although Dallas didn't need either to beat Nashville 2-1 on Wednesday night.

Marty Turco stopped 23 shots to win his career-high sixth start in a row, and Brendan Morrow and Philippe Boucher each scored for the Stars.

"Right now we have different guys stepping up and that's the great thing about how we're playing," Morrow said. "They call these games character builders and we believe these kind of games will help us heading toward the playoffs."

Dallas has won seven in a row three times, most recently from Nov. 22-Dec. 5, 1997. Before this season, the Stars had only won six straight four times in their history.

"Everyone seems to be chipping in and playing well at the same time," defenseman Stephane Robidas said. "We are starting to gain confidence in ourselves."

Boucher's goal was his career-high 12th this season. The 32-year-old defenseman has three goals and five assists in his last seven games, and has matched his career high with 30 points.

The Blues beat Chicago 6-5 in a shootout on Thursday, and will now be looking for back-to-back victories for the first time since Nov. 16-19. Thursday's win, combined with a 3-2 shootout victory over Calgary on Monday, gave the Blues consecutive home wins for the first time this season.

Lee Stempniak, recalled from Peoria of the AHL on Sunday following the trades of Doug Weight and Mike Sillinger, scored the winning goal in both shootouts and the 23-year-old rookie has four goals in three games since returning from the minors.

"It's a huge thrill," said Stempniak, who has seven goals and four assists in 27 games. "However many goals I have this year, I remember them all and how they went in. I'm still like a kid out there, just amazed by being in the NHL and scoring goals."

In the five games before Stempniak was recalled, the Blues lost three times in a shootout.

"A lot of it is just sort of reacting to the goalie, seeing what happens, what's worked," Stempniak said. "I like to watch the highlights and see what works around the league and see if I can practice those and get them to work."

The Stars have beaten the Blues six straight times since a 2-1 loss in St. Louis on Nov. 22, 2003.

STANDINGS: Stars - 74 points, 1st place, Pacific Division. Blues - 34 points, 5th place, 41 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Stars - Jere Lehtinen, 25 goals; Sergei Zubov, 34 assists; Mike Modano, 50 points; Steve Ott, 105 PIM. Blues - Dean McAmmond, 14 goals; Petr Cajanek, 26 assists; Scott Young, 34 points; Barret Jackman, 101 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Stars - Power play: 15.8 percent (52 for 328), 22nd in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.7 percent (272 for 325), 11th. Blues - Power play: 15.6 percent (54 for 345), 24th. Penalty killing: 81 percent (251 for 310), 20th (tied).

GOALTENDERS: Stars - Turco (28-13-2, 3 SO, 2.46 GAA); Johan Hedberg (8-2-0, 2.71). Blues - Curtis Sanford (7-12-4, 3, 2.90); Patrick Lalime (3-11-4, 3.97).

SEASON SERIES: Stars, 3-0.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 25; Stars 4-3, SO. At Dallas, Jussi Jokinen set up Boucher's goal with 46.4 seconds to play to send the game into overtime, and converted in the shootout to lead the Stars.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Stars - 17-5-1 on the road; Blues - 8-15-3 at home.

Associated Press
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