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Stars' Seguin a game-time decision against Blues

by Louie Korac

ST. LOUIS -- The Dallas Stars are in a furious fight to the finish as far as a Western Conference wild-card spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In that mad dash, there will be a couple of players who are questionable for Saturday night against the conference-leading St. Louis Blues.

The Stars (35-27-11) held an optional skate Saturday and could be without one of their most important players in their clash with the Central Division-rival Blues (50-16-7).

Center Tyler Seguin, who leads the Stars in goals (32), assists (44) and points (76) in 71 games, is dealing with what coach Lindy Ruff termed soreness. The Stars recalled left wing Chris Mueller from the American Hockey League's Texas Stars on Saturday morning because a couple of players are dealing with bumps and bruises as well as sickness.

"We've got a couple of question marks," Ruff said. "[Seguin's] one of them. We'll wait and see tonight."

Asked to elaborate, Ruff didn't offer much.

"Soreness, that's all," he said. "We've got soreness and a couple of guys with sickness back at the hotel."

Among the sick is veteran left wing Ray Whitney, who was questionable for the Stars' 7-3 home victory Friday against the Nashville Predators but played.

The Stars enter Saturday three points behind the Phoenix Coyotes and four behind the Minnesota Wild, who hold the Western Conference's two wild-card positions. With a game in hand on each team, points are precious for the Stars if they are to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

"The team has been great, the attitude has been loose," Ruff said. "I probably thought [Friday] was our best skating game in a long time. Obviously we've played very well at home of late, but we've struggled on the road a little bit. On the road, we've made some bigger mistakes that we'd like to clean up."

Ruff wouldn't commit to a starting goalie. Kari Lehtonen stopped 25 of 28 shots Friday night, but the Stars coach spoke like Lehtonen needs game action.

"I'm not going to try and cover up, I think Tim [Thomas] has struggled in his previous two starts, which hurt us," Ruff said. "In Kari's case, he'd been out a period of time [with injury]. He came in and I don't think he was quite ready. We're trying to get him in a groove. I think the blessing in disguise is he hasn't played a lot."

The Stars begin a five-game road trip against the Blues, who are fighting for the Central Division title, the Western Conference title and the Presidents' Trophy, which would be the second in franchise history.

"They validate the season," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of the team's goals. "They validate why you start putting your gear on in September, training like crazy and traveling all over and asking a lot of your players. It validates some of the goals you had in September.

"Our goal was to win the division, win the conference and have a crack at the Presidents' Trophy. We're in the race and if you're in the race, you might as well try to win it. Our goal is to try and win it. If we don't, it'll take us 10 minutes to move on. We're not going to lose any sleep over it. But what the heck, if you're fighting for it, let's fight for it."

Here are the projected lineups for the Stars and Blues:


Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Valeri Nichushkin

Antoine Roussel - Cody Eakin - Ryan Garbutt

Shawn Horcoff - Vernon Fiddler - Colton Sceviour

Ray Whitney - Dustin Jeffrey - Alex Chiasson

Alex Goligoski - Trevor Daley

Jordie Benn - Brenden Dillon

Aaron Rome - Sergei Gonchar

Kari Lehtonen

Tim Thomas

Scratched: Kevin Connauton, Chris Mueller

Injured: Erik Cole (upper body), Rich Peverley (irregular heartbeat)


Alexander Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie

Patrik Berglund - Vladimir Sobotka - Jaden Schwartz

Brenden Morrow - Derek Roy - Steve Ott

Chris Porter - Maxim Lapierre - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Barret Jackman - Roman Polak

Ian Cole - Kevin Shattenkirk

Ryan Miller

Brian Elliott

Scratched: Jordan Leopold, Carlo Colaiacovo, Magnus Paajarvi, Dmitrij Jaskin

Injured: Vladimir Tarasenko (thumb)

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