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Stars head to St. Louis without Peverley

by Sean McCullen

STARS (31-23-10) at BLUES (44-14-6)


Last 10: Dallas 7-2-1; St. Louis 7-2-1

Season series: This is the third of five games between the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues, who have won the first two games, most recently a 3-2 overtime win at American Airlines Center on Dec. 29. The teams will play twice in the final 15 days of the NHL’s regular-season schedule.

Big story: Though the Stars have a game to play, their thoughts are no doubt back in Dallas with teammate Rich Peverley, who was hospitalized Monday night after he collapsed on the bench due to a heart-related issue during a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The game was postponed with 13:37 left in the first period and the Blue Jackets leading 1-0.

“There’s nobody in there that wants to play hockey right now, and I think everybody understands that when you’ve witnessed what they had to witness and that’s their teammate,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said afterward. “And that’s the right place to be. That’s the right emotion to have. They’re not doing very good, and I wouldn’t expect them to be.”

Peverley, whom the Stars acquired in a July 2013 trade with the Boston Bruins, missed a game in Columbus on March 4 with an irregular heartbeat, a health issue that cost him all of the preseason and the team’s Oct. 3 season opener. The 31-year-old center had seven goals and 23 assists in 62 games entering Monday.

The Stars did fly to St. Louis as scheduled Monday night.

Team Scope:

Stars: Dallas has won two games in a row and three of five in March to take hold of the second of two Western Conference wild-card spots for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Tim Thomas, acquired last week from the Florida Panthers at the NHL Trade Deadline, will get most of the work for the Stars while No. 1 goalie Kari Lehtonen recovers from a concussion sustained Saturday night when he was plowed over by Minnesota Wild forward Erik Haula.

Thomas made his first start with Dallas on Monday before the game was postponed due to Peverley’s medical issue. He and Peverley were teammates on the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup championship team.

Stars forward Tyler Seguin, who also played with Peverley in Boston, on Monday was named the NHL’s First Star of the Week. He had four goals and five assists in three games during the week ending March 9.

Blues: St. Louis climbed to the top of the League standings with 94 points with a 3-2 shootout win against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday night, and they held on to that position when the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the second-place Anaheim Ducks (93 points) on Monday.

The Blues will not only be going for a sixth straight win when the Stars visit Scottrade Center, but they’ll also be attempting to remain unbeaten in regulation this season against Central Division teams. St. Louis is 18-0-1 against divisional foes; the only setback came Oct. 18 in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Winnipeg Jets.

The win Sunday in Minnesota improved St. Louis to an NHL-best 21-9-3 on the road.

“We’ve been kind of a ‘homer’ team in the past, and I think it’s really good that we’ve made that step,” Blues forward T.J. Oshie said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “The road games have been tough to win. It seems like we haven’t had that many games where they were out of hand. All of them have been close, and we’ve had to hold leads in the third (period).”

Who’s hot: Stars center Jamie Benn has six points (two goals) in the past four games. … Oshie has four points (two goals) his past four games for the Blues, and he scored in the shootout against the Wild to improve to 8-for-11 in the tiebreaker this season.

Injury report: Peverley (upper body) and Lehtonen (concussion) are out indefinitely for Dallas. … St. Louis defenseman Jordan Leopold (ankle), who has not played since Feb. 8, is day-to-day. He has been skating with the team since late February. Center Vladimir Sobotka (broken knee cap) is on injured reserve, but he is close to returning, according to reports.

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