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Stars-Blues Game 2 Preview

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Sunday, May 1

2:00 p.m.

TV: NBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports

Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

The Stars got the start they wanted in Game 1 of the series, holding home ice and taking a 1-0 series lead with a 2-1 victory Friday night at American Airlines Center.

“It was big, especially playing at home. I think it was equally important to play a solid game, and we were able to do both, so that was good,” said goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who stopped 31 shots in Friday’s win. “We played well, but that’s over now, and we need to focus on playing well [Sunday] and keep this thing going.”

The Stars expect a better effort from the Blues in Game 2. St. Louis will be desperate to avoid going down 2-0 in the series.

“I think they will play better,” said Stars forward Ales Hemsky. “Maybe they were a little tired from the other series. They have a good team to regroup and give us the best that they have, so we have to be ready.”

“This series has just started,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “Game 1 is a long ways behind us right now. This series is going to start to heat up right now because they’re going into a Game 2 where I know what as a coach he’s thinking over there. This is like a Game 7. They don’t want to go down 2-0. They want to make their statement, and I have to have our team ready for that.”

Stars forward Patrick Eaves, who left Friday’s game after being hit in the lower leg with a puck, is listed as day to day. Eaves was on crutches Saturday, but Ruff said the injury was not serious.

Ruff said with Eaves injured, Valeri Nichushkin would draw back into the lineup. Nichushkin has been a healthy scratch the past two games.

The Stars held a brief practice in Frisco Saturday and spent some time on special teams.

Dallas recalled forwards Curtis McKenzie and Brett Ritchie from Texas of the AHL. Texas was knocked out of the AHL playoffs Friday night.

Injuries: RW Patrick Eaves (leg) is day to day. C Tyler Seguin (lower body) is out.

The Blues practiced Saturday afternoon at American Airlines Center. The thought was it would be an optional skate, but it was all hands on deck as the Blues look to bounce back from Friday’s loss and try to draw even in the series Sunday.

“We know it's a seven-game series. We're not approaching [Friday] night like it was the end of our season,” said defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. “It wasn't our best effort, but we came out today with a fresh mindset and we've been loose like that all year. I think that's the beauty of this team, is we get over that quickly, and we know what adjustments to make, and usually we come out in a game like [Sunday] and we're ready to play.”

The Blues were not thrilled with their play in Friday’s game, and the effort got everyone’s attention on Saturday.

“Whenever you get a little wake-up call like that, we had a meeting in here where we weren't happy with ourselves,” said forward Troy Brouwer. “You're going to have a good bounce-back game after that. Guys weren't happy with the outcome or how we played last game, so we're going to be able to look around the room and make sure everybody's having a good game.”

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said Friday’s game also got his team’s attention in another way. The Stars are a handful.

“I think there's a realization that this is a better team than anybody we've played, and nothing to take away from Chicago, but this is a better team, and we're going to have to be even better than we were against Chicago if we expect to win,” Hitchcock said. “I think everybody's realized that and then we've got to put our work boots on and get to work. We've got to do a lot of the blue-collar stuff that we did last series; we've got to do it again, and we've got to do it even better throughout our team. I think there's a realization that it's a very deep hockey club across the way, and we're going to have to have even a bigger commitment than before.”

Forward Scottie Upshall didn’t practice Saturday. It was a maintenance day. Hitchcock said Upshall would be maintenance the rest of the series.

Ryan Reaves skated in place of Steve Ott on the fourth line Saturday. Hitchcock wouldn’t say if he was planning any lineup changes.

“All available assets are at our disposal,” Hitchcock said. “Let me put it this way: we do not have an injury that would prevent me from making a decision.”

Injuries: None

*Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen is 4-1 with a 2.01 goals-against average and .925 save percentage in five games this postseason.

*Lehtonen is 2-0-1 vs. St. Louis this season (regular season and playoffs) with a 0.99 goals-against average and .961 save percentage.

*Lehtonen is 14-6-3 in his career (regular season and playoffs) vs. St. Louis with a 2.04 goals-against average and .926 save percentage.

*The Stars have won nine of their past ten home games, including both regular season and playoffs. The only loss during that stretch was in overtime to Minnesota in Game 5 of the first round.

*The Blues have won seven of their past nine games on the road (regular season and playoffs) and 15 of their past 20 away from home dating back to the All-Star break.

Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 29: Stars 2, Blues 1

Game 2 – Sun., May 1, St. Louis at Dallas, 2 p.m.

Game 3 – Tue., May 3, Dallas at St. Louis, 8:30 p.m.

Game 4 – Thu., May 5, Dallas at St. Louis, 7:00 p.m.

*Game 5 – Sat., May 7, St. Louis at Dallas, TBD

*Game 6 – Mon., May 9, Dallas at St. Louis, TBD

*Game 7 – Wed., May 11, St. Louis at Dallas, TBD

*If necessary

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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