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Stars try to extend hot streak vs. Blues

by Sean McCullen

BLUES (25-7-5) at STARS (19-12-6)


Last 10: St. Louis 6-2-2; Dallas 6-3-1

Season series: This is the second of five games between the St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars. The Blues beat the Stars 6-1 at Scottrade Center on Nov. 23, when St. Louis got goals from six different players.

Big story: The Blues would welcome the same balanced scoring they got against the Stars in the teams' first game after it was announced Saturday that Alexander Steen is out indefinitely due to a concussion. Steen's 24 goals are second in the NHL to Alex Ovechkin (30).

"There's no set timetable. He's not going to be going on this road trip coming up [Sunday against the Stars and Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild], but he is exercising, and we hope he has a speedy recovery," Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said. "[With] concussions, I don't feel comfortable putting a timetable on [them]."

Steen was placed on injured reserve retroactive to Dec. 23, when he sat out St. Louis' 4-3 shootout loss against the Calgary Flames. He did not return to the game against the Edmonton Oilers on Dec. 21 following a hit by former St. Louis teammate David Perron in the second period.

Team Scope:

Blues: St. Louis rallied from a two-goal deficit late in the third period against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday on its way to a 6-5 shootout win.

Vladimir Tarasenko pulled the Blues within one goal at 16:09 and Patrik Berglund tied the game at 5-5 with 2:34 left in regulation. Brian Elliott made 17 saves to earn the win after relieving Jaroslav Halak to start the second period.

"We hung in there and found a way to get two points, which is a heck of a bonus for us," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We got some really good performances, especially from guys like Tarasenko, who was just outstanding. [Jaden Schwartz] was outstanding again, and a lot of our younger players really came to play."

Halak allowed three goals on 13 shots.

Stars: Dallas opened its five-game homestand with a 4-1 win against the Nashville Predators on Friday, improving its record to 4-0-1 over the past five games. The Stars have surrendered eight non-shootout goals in those five games.

Dallas' recent hot streak has the Stars on the cusp of a playoff position in the Western Conference race. They are one point behind the Wild for fourth in the Central Division and ninth in the conference.

Coach Lindy Ruff hopes his team will continue playing well against the top teams in the West, something they have done in the past two weeks, including a 3-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche on Dec. 17 and a 5-2 win against the Los Angeles Kings on Monday.

"If we're going to keep progressing, we have to get points against the teams that are above us too. You want to play well against the teams that are below you, but it's important that if you want to move up that you beat the teams that are ahead of you too. We know that [the Blues have] been one of the top teams. They've been very consistent through the first 40 [games] here, so we know that we're going to have our hands full."

Who's hot: Schwartz has goals in four straight games and five of six for St. Louis. Tarasenko has four points (three assists) his past two games. … Stars left wing Erik Cole scored twice in the Stars' win against the Predators. He has three goals his past four games and six in his past 12. Center Jaime Benn has four points (two goals) the past two games.

Injury report: In addition to Steen, St. Louis is without right wing Ryan Reaves (hand) and defensemen Roman Polak (ankle) and Jordan Leopold (hand). Center Derek Roy (illness) is day-to-day. … Stars defensemen Sergei Gonchar (concussion), Trevor Daley (ankle) and Stephane Robidas (leg) are on IR.

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