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Big Win in St. Louis Moves Stars Closer to Playoff Spot

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars needed points Saturday night, they needed to get them against one of the league’s top teams and in one of the league’s toughest buildings to win these days while playing on the second night of a back-to-back. They answered the challenge, defeating the St. Louis Blues, 4-2, at Scottrade Center.

“There was desperation in the game by both teams. The emotion in the game was just like a playoff game. It was an intense game. It was a good game for us to be in,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “We have to answer the question of whether we are good enough, and when you play like that against a real good team that plays well in this building, we were able to hold it together.”

The victory pulled the Stars to within one point of Phoenix for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Coyotes lost 3-1 to Minnesota Saturday. The Stars are four points behind Minnesota, which holds the other wild card spot in the West. Dallas has one game in hand on both those teams.

“It’s not must-win for us yet, but with the teams ahead of us winning we have to keep pace when we are playing,” said Stars forward Colton Sceviour. “Playing a real good team on the second night of a back-to-back with travel, it’s huge to come in here and get a victory.”

The Stars received a superb performance from goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who stopped 33 of 35 shots while playing for a second straight night.

“This was a huge test for us,” Lehtonen said. “They are one of the best teams in the league. We played last night and traveled here last night, and we showed up to play. It was a huge win.”

For the second straight game, the Stars got goals from their depth players. Sceviour scored twice and Cody Eakin and Antoine Roussel also scored. Jordie Benn and Shawn Horcoff both chipped in two assists.

The Stars snapped a four-game road losing streak and handed the Blues their first regulation loss since January 18, a stretch of 11 games.

"I thought we were just sloppy. We were sloppy," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "I think where we were not very competitive or out of sync was in our own zone. We gave the first goal away twice. We ran around on their third goal. We went chasing hits on their third goal. Fourth goal, we jumped by it twice. That's sloppy.”

The Stars got the important first goal early in the game. After Blues forward Steve Ott turned over the puck, Horcoff centered the puck and Sceviour redirected it past Blues goaltender Ryan Miller 3:53 into the first period.

“It was huge to get the first goal,” said Sceviour. “That stretch we had on the road we were fighting from behind almost the whole game. That’s a tough way to play. It’s obviously easier to play hockey when you have the lead, and we got that.”

The Stars had two power play chances in the period, but couldn’t extend the lead. Tyler Seguin came close, hitting the post on the first power play.

Lehtonen was sharp in the first period, especially in the first part of it when the Blues controlled play. He had several good saves, including a great one on a point blank chance by Patrik Berglund.

The Stars killed off two St. Louis power plays early in the second period and then extended the lead to 2-0 at the 7:21 mark when Horcoff put the puck towards the net off the rush and it deflected past Miller off Sceviour’s skate.

“I was fortunate to have it go off my skate and in. It’s not the prettiest goal, but we’ll take them,” said Sceviour.

After the Stars missed on their third power play of the night, the Blues cashed in on their third opportunity with the man-advantage when Alexander Steen tipped in an Alex Pietrangelo point shot to make it a 2-1 game with 5:44 left in the second.

But the Stars answered 25 seconds later when Eakin deflected a Jordie Benn shot into the net to put the Stars up 3-1 with 5:19 left in the period.

“Tonight we got the lead and when they scored we answered right away. That was a big part of the game,” said Ruff.

The Blues went on their fourth power play late in the second and scored on it early in the third when Steen scored on a blast from the top of the right circle to make it a 3-2 game at the 49 second mark.

The Stars answered again when Roussel chipped a puck past Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk at the Dallas blue line, broke in all alone on the St. Louis net and popped the puck past Miller to make it 4-2 Stars with 12:04 left in the game. That’s the way it ended, pulling the Stars closer to that final playoff spot in the West.

“We feel we have our fate in our own hands,” said Sceviour. “We have games in hand, but those games mean nothing unless you win them. We feel confident if we play well we can make a push here down the stretch, and this is a start and we can build off it.”

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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