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Stars bring experience into Game 7 vs. Blues

Eaves, Oduya, Sharp have been there before

by Steve Hunt / Correspondent

FRISCO, Texas -- The Dallas Stars will play their first Game 7 in nine seasons Wednesday at home against the St. Louis Blues (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports), but their roster has veterans with plenty of experience in elimination games.

Forward Patrick Eaves has played in five Game 7s, most on the Stars. Defenseman Johnny Oduya, and forwards Tyler Seguin and Patrick Sharp have played in four.

"Well, obviously they're exciting games," said Oduya, who won the Stanley Cup in 2013 and 2015 with the Chicago Blackhawks. "They're the games that when you're a kid, you dream about a Stanley Cup Playoff deciding Game 7. You're the hero, you win the game and all that stuff. Of course, there's a lot of fun that comes with it."

Forward Ales Hemsky was with the Edmonton Oilers when they were defeated by the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1 in Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final. Until Wednesday, that will be the only Game 7 Hemsky has played in.

"[I remember] just the misery, we were down 2-1 and the time is kind of flying," Hemsky said. "Some games, like last game [Game 6], the time doesn't fly. But in those games, when you get down, it's just like 10 minutes, 20 minutes gone and all of a sudden, you have only 20 minutes to do it. This is it. I guess that's why you play hockey. Those moments are great. You remember them for the rest of your life."

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Dallas captain Jamie Benn will play in a Game 7 for the first time. He is tied for the NHL lead with 15 points in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks).

"It's going to be exciting," Benn said. "I'm sure there's going to be some nerves for the first couple shifts, but after that I think it'll be fun. It's fun to be a part of these games. These are the biggest games that you want to play in. It's going to be exciting to play in front of our fans."

But it's not just the Dallas players who have Game 7 experience, Lindy Ruff coached in three with the Buffalo Sabres.

"It's a [battle of] two good teams that were separated by two points [in the standings], that at different times in the series have both had their way with their play," Ruff said. "It's the team who's going to be able to execute and push through tomorrow, and then at times, hold off when the other team is coming with their push [that is going to win]."

Oduya knows better than most that the key to success in a Game 7 is a mentality of keeping things simple.

"You want to play your best, give everything you have and leave it on the ice," Oduya said. "That's the only thing you can do. There's usually one thing that happens that decides them. You're just trying to be on the winning side. The mindset is just go out there, play all out and try to not think too much."

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