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Preview: Stars look to extend lead over Blues in playoff race

Bishop to start in goal as the division rivals meet for the fifth and final time this season

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge
St. Louis Blues at Dallas Stars 

Saturday, March 3 
1:00 p.m.  
TV: Fox Sports Southwest  
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

 

About the Stars

The Stars (36-23-5) lost 5-4 in overtime to Tampa Bay Thursday. The Stars were down 4-2 after two periods, but Brett Ritchie scored early in the third to cut the Lightning lead to one and then Mattias Janmark scored with 3.5 seconds left to tie and force overtime where Tampa Bay's Cory Conacher scored the game-winner with 41 seconds left.

"I'm really pleased with the way we played the game," said Stars coach Ken Hitchcock. "We had a couple of mistakes and paid the price for it, but we played a very good hockey game, especially in the third period. This is going to end up, hopefully, being a very valuable point."

Tyler Seguin scored twice for the Stars, who rallied for points in a game for just third time season when trailing after two periods (1-18-2).

The Stars come into Saturday's game in the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference, and they are three points ahead of St. Louis, which is outside of a playoff spot. The Stars have an opportunity to put some more distance between themselves and St. Louis.

"With the way the standings are it is a huge game," Janmark said. "We have to go out there and fight for those two points because they are going to be big at the end of the year."

Defenseman Marc Methot did not practice Friday. He had the day off and is expected to play Saturday.

Ben Bishop will get the start in goal.

Saturday is the fourth of a five-game homestand for the Stars.

Injuries: C Martin Hanzal (back) is out.

Video: Every game is big in the last month of the season

 

About the Blues

The Blues (35-26-4) snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 2-1 win over Detroit Wednesday. Carter Hutton stopped 35 shots, and Scottie Upshall and Alex Pietrangelo scored goals for the Blues, who won for the first time since Feb. 9.

"I think a lot of guys put a lot in today, especially on the defensive side of the game to make sure that things stay out of our net," Pietrangelo said. "Overall, a pretty good game. Got away from it a bit there in the second, but we grabbed it there in the third, and it was a big push tonight."

Forward Patrik Berglund was a healthy scratch Wednesday but skated on a line in Friday's practice.

Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, who has missed five games with a knee injury, went through a full practice Friday. He is close to a return.

No word on a starting goalie for the Blues, but Hutton appears to be the likely candidate. Hutton leads the NHL in both goals against average (1.99) and save percentage (.935).

Saturday begins a four-game road trip for St. Louis which also plays at San Jose, Los Angeles, and Anaheim.

Injuries: D Robert Bortuzzo (knee) is questionable. D Joel Edmundson (forearm) is out.

 

Season Series
  • This is the fifth and final meeting of the season between the Stars and Blues.

  • Both teams are 2-2-0 in the season series.

  • Oct. 7, at St. Louis: Blues 4, Stars 2 

  • Dec. 7, at St. Louis: Blues 3, Stars 0 

  • Dec. 29, at Dallas: Stars 4, Blues 2 

  • Feb. 16, at Dallas: Stars 2, Blues 1

 
Statistical Tidbits
  • The Stars are 22-10-2 at home.

  • The Blues are 15-12-4 on the road.

  • The Stars are 10-11-0 vs. the Central Division.

  • The Blues are 9-9-2 vs. the Central Division.

  • The Stars rank fourth in goals against at 2.61 per game.

  • The Blues rank fifth in goals against at 2.66 per game.

  • The Stars are tied for 15th in goal scoring at 2.91 per game.

  • The Blues rank 23rd in goal scoring at 2.69 per game.

  • The Stars rank fifth on the penalty kill at 82.7 percent.

  • The Blues rank 28th on the power play at 15.8 percent.

  • The Stars rank 20th on the power play at 19.3 percent.

  • The Blues rank 13th on the penalty kill at 81.4 percent.

  • Stars center Tyler Seguin is on a four-game goal scoring streak and is tied for third in the league with 34 goals.

  • Vladimir Tarasenko leads the Blues with 26 goals.

This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow him on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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