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Stars want their fans to see them advance

Can eliminate Wild on Friday for first home close-out since 2008

by Steve Hunt / Correspondent

DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars hold a 3-1 lead on the Minnesota Wild in the Western Conference First Round, but as the best-of-7 series shifts to Dallas for Game 5 at American Airlines Center on Friday (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports, FS-N, FS-WI, FS-SW), the Stars' focus is on closing out the Wild, which will be no easy task. 

"It's tough [to close out a series]," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said Thursday. "We had them [Minnesota] backed in a corner after a 2-0 lead and they gave us their best game [in Game 3]. We have to keep our emotions in check with being in front of our home crowd and continue to play our game."

Dallas is in this position after defeating the Wild 3-1 at XCel Energy Center in Game 4 on Wednesday.

In Game 4, the Stars power play, a unit that had been 1-for-13 in the series, was 2-for-2 with goals from Patrick Eaves and Jason Spezza. And Stars captain Jamie Benn, who leads Dallas with six points (four assists) in the series, has a good idea about why the power play now appears back on track.

"I think we just kept it simple and started shooting pucks and found a way to get some goals. Good things happen when you shoot the puck," Benn said. 

Ruff is likely to stick with goaltender Antti Niemi, who made 23 saves in Game 4, his first start of the series, in Game 5. 

But one thing certain about Game 5 is injured center Tyler Seguin will not play for Dallas. Seguin missed the final 10 games of the regular season with a partial cut to his Achilles, which required surgery.

Seguin, second on the Stars with 73 points this season, also missed Game 1 but returned for Game 2 and looked rusty. He did not accompany the Stars to Minnesota and missed Games 3 and 4.

One player who has stepped up in Seguin's absence is Eaves, who has three points (two goals) in the series, his first with the Stars. 

The veteran right wing, in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the seventh time in his career with a fourth different team [Carolina Hurricanes, Ottawa Senators, Detroit Red Wings], knows any opportunity to end a series should be treated with urgency.

"We don't want to mess around at all," Eaves said. "This is not a time to take our foot off the gas. We've got to really push for the win [Friday]."

The Stars last hosted a close-out game in the playoffs on May 4, 2008, when they eliminated the San Jose Sharks in six games with a 2-1 win in four overtimes in the Western Conference Semifinal.

Benn thinks it's about time Stars fans get to see another series end on home ice.

"[I expect a] lot of energy, a lot of excitement and much like the first two games," Benn said. "It's going to be exciting for us as players to play in front of them. I'm sure it's going to be exciting for them, and hopefully we can close it out."

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