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Morning Skate: Eaves a game-time decision vs. Blues

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Stars forward Patrick Eaves will be a game-time decision and Kari Lehtonen will get the start in goal as the Dallas Stars face a must-win situation in Game 6 tonight in St. Louis.

The Stars, who are down 3-2 in the best-of-seven second-round playoff series, need a win to force a seventh and deciding game back in Dallas Wednesday night.

“We’ve always answered the bell when our backs are against the wall. We know our season is on the line,” said Stars center Vernon Fiddler. “We’ve prepared ourselves all season long for this, this is the kind of game where players have to respond, and that’s what we’ll do.”

Stars coach Lindy Ruff was asked to gauge the mood of his team on the ice Monday morning.

“Loose,” Ruff said. “Couple guys were humming Shania Twain songs.”

Ruff said he would have no problem with the Stars playing the way they did in Game 5. Despite the 4-1 loss, the Dallas coach believes the Stars did a lot of good things, and the bounces just didn’t go their way.

“I would take that game again tonight,” Ruff said. “Give us the same opportunities and I would take every play in that game and do it again, give us a second chance at it, and I think we would have a different result or at least a chance at a different result.”

As for Eaves, he skated this morning and time will tell if he’ll play tonight. He’s been out since taking a shot off his lower leg in the first game of this series.

“He’ll end up being a game-time decision,” Ruff said. “He’s feeling pretty good, so when game-time rolls around, we’ll see if the rest of the day can make a difference for him.”

“[Feeling] better than yesterday,” Eaves said. “I just got off the ice, got through the morning skate, which was fine. We'll see how it reacts. It's kind of wait-and-see. Still have decisions to be made.”

The versatile, veteran Eaves would be a big boost to the Stars in several areas, especially on the power play where the Stars have struggled.

“He adds a lot,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “He’s a great veteran player for this team. He seems to be great for us in the slot on the power play. It’s just a simple, hardworking game with him.”

The Stars likely will skate 13 forwards in warm-ups and Brett Ritchie and Colton Sceviour, who has been scratched the past two games, are expected to be in the mix.

No changes are expected on defense. Lehtonen will make his third straight start. He is 2-1 in the series with a 3.05 goals-against average and .892 save percentage. For the entire playoffs, he 5-2 with a 2.65 GAA and .901 save percentage.


The Blues have a chance to close out the Stars and advance to the Western Conference Final for the first time since 2001. But they know it won’t be easy. Elimination games never are.

“I think they're going to bring their best game, play their top guys more than usual,” said defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. “It's going to be like that from the start of the puck drop, so we have to make sure that we're ready for that and be able to answer back. I don't think we just see what they're going to bring and then try to bring our best. We're going to be ready for it with our best game as well."

The Blues are expected to make one lineup change tonight. Robert Bortuzzo will come in on defense and Joel Edmundson will be a healthy scratch. Bortuzzo hasn’t played since Apr. 23, which was Game 6 of the first-round series against Chicago.

“Bortuzzo is an attacking player. He’s good at joining the rush and making plays from the red line in. Eddie’s more of a defending player. A stay-at-home kind of guy,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “Our feeling is, it’s a skating series. We need to have as much puck control as we can. Numbers on attack. We’ve probably got to add a little bit of risk to our game if we’re going to be better offensively. We think we’ve got to create more scoring chances. We’re going to add as many attacking, or in [Dmitrij] Jaskin’s case, puck control people as we can.”

Jaskin, who was inserted into the lineup for Game 5 and scored the game-winning goal, is expected to skate on the fourth line again tonight.

Brian Elliott gets the start in goal. He is 3-2 in the series with a 1.92 goals-against average and .937 save percentage.


Who: Dallas Stars at St. Louis Blues

Where: Scottrade Center

When: 7:00 p.m.

TV: NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports

Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM


Jamie BennCody EakinPatrick Sharp

Mattias JanmarkJason SpezzaValeri Nichushkin

Antoine Roussel/Brett RitchieRadek FaksaAles Hemsky

Colton SceviourVernon FiddlerPatrick Eaves


Alex Goligoski
John Klingberg

Johnny OduyaStephen Johns

Kris RussellJason Demers


Kari Lehtonen

Antti Niemi


Injured:
Tyler Seguin (lower body)

Scratched:
Jordie Benn, Patrik Nemeth, Jamie Oleksiak, Travis Moen, Curtis McKenzie, Jack Campbell, Jason Dickinson, Julius Honka, Brendan Ranford, Justin Dowling


Jaden Schwartz – Jori Lehtera – Vladimir Tarasenko

Robby Fabbri – Paul Stastny – Troy Brouwer

Patrik Berglund – Alexander Steen – David Backes

Scottie Upshall – Kyle Brodziak – Dmitrij Jaskin


Jay Bouwmeester – Alex Pietrangelo

Kevin Shattenkirk – Robert Bortuzzo

Carl Gunnarsson – Colton Parayko


Brian Elliott

Jake Allen


Injured: None

Scratched: Chris Butler, Joel Edmundson, Peter Harrold, Anders Nilsson, Steve Ott, Magnus Paajarvi, Ty Rattie, Ryan Reaves

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 DallasStars.com 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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