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Stars hope early start, home ice work in their favor

Dallas likely to keep forward lines same for Game 5 against St. Louis

by Steve Hunt / Correspondent

DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars feel an early start to Game 5 of the Western Conference Second Round against the St. Louis Blues at American Airlines Center on Saturday (1 pm ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports) could be to their advantage.

"I think it's almost better [to play early]," Stars captain Jamie Benn said Friday. "We can just wake up and play."

The best-of-7 series is tied 2-2 after the Stars' 3-2 overtime win in Game 4 at Scottrade Center on Thursday.

Dallas was 28-11-2 at home during the regular season and are 3-2 during the playoffs.

"It's huge," Benn said of playing at home. "I think now we've got a best-of-3. It starts here [Saturday] in front of our fans. We're definitely looking forward to it and definitely want to take advantage of playing in front of our fans in our home building and try to find a way to win."

Video: Jamie Benn motivates Stars during OT battle

Injured forward Patrick Eaves practiced Friday but isn't expected to play in Game 5. He has missed the past three games because of an injury to his right leg sustained in Game 1 when he was hit by a shot from teammate Stephen Johns.

"I don't think he's ready," Ruff said. "He's a question mark for us."

Injured center Tyler Seguin skated Friday but will not play in Game 5. His only game since surgery to repair a partially torn Achilles tendon in his left leg in March was Game 2 of the first round against the Minnesota Wild.

"Skating but not ready to play," Ruff said.

Goalie Kari Lehtonen is expected to get a second straight start. He made 24 saves in Game 4, and in eight playoff games he's 5-1 with a 2.58 goals-against-average, .906 save percentage and one shutout.

Video: DAL@STL, Gm4: Lehtonen robs Brouwer's chance

At practice Friday, Ruff appeared to be keeping his forward lines identical from Game 4. But Colton Sceviour, a healthy scratch Thursday, could play right wing on the fourth line with left wing Travis Moen and center Vernon Fiddler. Sceviour could replace rookie Brett Ritchie, who played 11 shifts totaling 6:36 in his playoff debut in that spot in Game 4.

Ruff said he'd like to see a repeat of how strong the Stars were with the puck in Game 4.

"I think we moved the puck a little bit quicker, we held onto it longer, which I stressed a lot, with not giving it back to them," he said. "Because as soon as you give it back to them, they're coming at you. It's a big deal to have the puck. We didn't have the puck enough in a couple of those games and a couple of those situations [earlier in the series]."

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