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Stars-Blues Preview

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

St. Louis Blues at Dallas Stars

Friday April 3, 2015
7:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

About the Stars

The Stars (37-30-10) last played Monday, losing 5-3 to Calgary at American Airlines Center. The Stars had 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the game, but the Flames scored three straight goals to take a 4-2 lead into the third period.

With the loss, the Stars failed to gain ground on the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. And they haven’t lost ground. They are six points out but with just five games remaining.

“These five games are important. We know strange things happen in hockey,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “For us it is try to take care of our own business and in the meantime hope the teams around us that need to lose, lose.”

The Stars have recalled forward Valeri Nichushkin from a three-game conditioning assignment in the AHL. Nichushkin, who has been out since hip surgery in November, could play Friday.

Center Shawn Horcoff (illness) did not practice Thursday, and his status for Thursday is up in the air. Defenseman Jordie Benn, who has missed the past two games with a back injury, practiced Thursday and is available to play.

Injuries: C Shawn Horcoff (illness) is questionable.

About the Blues

The Blues (47-23-7) clinched a playoff spot with a 4-1 victory over Calgary Thursday in St. Louis. The Blues outshot Calgary 43-18, but it was a one-goal game until Blues forward Jori Lehtera scored with 3:15 lead to extend the lead to 3-1.

“We worked hard at both ends. Hung onto pucks a little more. Tried to make play through all four lines,” said Blues center Paul Stastny, who registered a goal and an assist. “I think as a team we played pretty sound hockey. We kept going and eventually got that third goal that allowed us to breathe a little.”

The Blues, who snapped a two-game losing streak, pulled to within two points of Nashville for first place in the Central Division.

The Blues were without forwards Alexander Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko, who are both out with lower-body injuries. Both are listed as day to day but are expected to be ready for the playoffs.

Friday’s game kicks off a stretch of two straight on the road for the Blues, who also play at Chicago on Sunday.

Injuries: LW Alexander Steen (lower body) and RW Vladimir Tarasenko (lower body) are out.

Series Notes

*This is the fifth and final meeting between the Stars and Blues this season.

*The Stars are 2-1-1 (5 points) in the series.

*The Blues are 2-2-0 (4 points) in the series.

*Oct. 28, at Dallas: Blues 4, Stars 3 (OT)

*Dec. 27, at St. Louis: Stars 4, Blues 3

*Feb. 17, at St. Louis: Stars 4, Blues 1

*Mar. 15, at Dallas: Blues 3, Stars 0

Statistical tidbits

*The Stars are 6-13-7 vs. the Central Division.

*The Blues are 13-10-1 vs. the Central.

*The Blues lead the league in shots against at 27.1 per game.

*The Stars are fourth in shots for per game at 31.4.

*The Stars are 10-43 (23.3) on the power play over the past 12 games.

*The Blues power play ranks fourth in the league at 22.5 percent and is 5-19 (26.3 percent) over the past six games.

*Stars captain Jamie Benn has registered 10 points (five goals, five assists) over his past seven games.

*The Blues are one of two teams with two goalies who have 20+ wins: Brian Elliot (23) and Jake Allen (20). The other team is the New York Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist (27) and Cam Talbot (20).

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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