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Stars-Blues Preview

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Saturday, December 26

7:00 p.m.

TV: Fox Sports Southwest Plus

Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

Sunday, December 27

5:00 p.m.

TV: Fox Sports Southwest

Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

The Stars (26-7-2) headed into the break with a 4-0 win over Chicago at American Airlines Center on Tuesday. The Stars, who had won 6-3 at Minnesota the night before, have won three straight games.

“It was excellent. I’m proud of the way the guys played,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “They played hard and played the right way.

“The atmosphere in the building was playoff-like. Both teams, the way they started, it looked like it was going to be a really close game. I thought we played a great first period coming off of a pretty late night. That’s the way you need to play to win games like that.”

The Stars are in the middle of a stretch where they are playing several games against Central Division foes. Three of their next four are against the Central starting with this weekend’s back-to-back against St. Louis.

“We just try to bottle [Tuesday’s] performance and move forward,” Ruff said. “One game at a time, knowing that St. Louis is a hell of a team. We may have to beat them – if we can beat them – 1-0 or 2-1 because that is the type of game they play.”

The Stars are 14-3-2 in their past 19 games.

Injuries: None

The Blues (21-11-4) headed into the break with a 2-0 win at Boston Tuesday. Jake Allen stopped 32 shots for his fifth shutout of the season and Vladimir Tarasenko’s goal at 7:35 of the third period snapped a scoreless tie.

“Quite frankly, this is the way we have to play every night,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We're not a team that can afford to be 85 percent. Some teams can get away with that. We're 100 percent into play the right way, and that's a small margin. Especially with the teams that are coming up post-Christmas. We're going to have to be 100 percent all the way in. And 100 percent means for 60 minutes; not 45, not 50.”

The Blues, who are 4-1-0 in their past five games, play their next four games against Central Division foes.

Injuries: F Kyle Brodziak (lower body) is day to day. F Jaden Schwartz (ankle) and F Steve Ott (hamstring) are on injured reserve. F Patrik Berglund (shoulder) is on long-term injured reserve.

*This is the second of five meetings between the Stars and Blues this season.

*The Blues won the first meeting, 3-0, in St. Louis on Dec. 12.

*The Stars are 5-2-0 vs. the Central Division.

*The Blues are 8-3-0 vs. the Central Division.

*The Stars rank first in goal scoring in the NHL (3.51/game) and 12th in goals against (2.49/game).

*The Blues rank 19th in goals scoring (2.53/game) and sixth in goals against (2.33/game).

*The Stars have allowed 13 goals in their past seven games (1.86/game).

*The Blues have allowed 13 goals in their past seven games (1.86/game).

*The Stars rank third on the power play in the NHL (23.3 percent).

*The Blues rank second on the penalty kill (87.3 percent).

*The Stars are 9-4-1 when the opposition scores first. Their .643 winning percentage in those games is tops in the NHL.

*The Blues are 10-7-2 when the opposition scores first. Their .526 winning percentage ranks second in the NHL.

*Stars captain Jamie Benn and Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko are tied for the NHL lead in goal scoring with 22.

*Benn and Stars center Tyler Seguin are tied for second in the NHL in points with 46.

*Tarasenko is tied for fifth in points with 38.

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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