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Stars look to take advantage of home ice

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars went through a short, upbeat practice at American Airlines Center Friday afternoon. The Stars, of course, are coming off a 3-2 overtime win in St. Louis that tied their second-round series with the Blues at 2-2.

“I am sure there was a little bit of nerves [Thursday night], but it was exciting, fun. It was a good challenge for our group,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “Obviously, we didn’t want to go down 3-1 and lose two games on the road. We found a way to win and now we’ve got a whole new series.”

It’s down to a best-of-three series and the Stars regained home-ice advantage with Thursday night’s win. They’ll look to take advantage of home ice Saturday when they face the Blues at American Airlines Center in a crucial Game 5.

“It’s huge. Now we’ve got a best-of-three, we’ve got home ice and it starts here tomorrow in front of our fans,” said Benn. “We are looking forward to it; we want to take advantage of playing in front of those fans in our home building and try to find a way to win.”

Game 5 will be a Noon start and will be broadcast nationally on NBC. It’s an early start, but not a concern for the players.

“It’s a little bit earlier than some of us are used to, but it is still a game and nothing changes,” said Stars center Cody Eakin.

Added Benn: “It’s almost better. You can just wake up and play. You don’t have to lay around and think all day. It’s going to be pretty good.”

Regardless of the start time, Stars coach Lindy Ruff said neither team is backing down in the series. It’s 2-2, and each side has had its moments in the four games. Three of the four games have been decided by one goal and two of the games have been settled in overtime.

“For me, each team has been able to impose their will at different times, and I don’t think that’s going to change,” Ruff said. “I think they’re a good enough team to at certain times impose their will, and I think that we were able to impose some of our will last game. … It’s two good teams who refuse to go away.”

Stars forward Patrick Eaves, who has been out with a leg injury, practiced Friday afternoon, but his status for Saturday is questionable. It was Eaves’ first time practicing since he was injured in Game 1 of the series after taking a shot to his lower leg.

“I don’t think he’s ready,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “He’s a question mark for us.”

Eaves was among the last players to come off the ice after Friday’s practice.

“Feeling better,” Eaves said. “I am feeling better every day. Obviously, not as quick as I would like it to be. It is what it is. Just supporting the team and it was a huge win for us last night.”

As for Tyler Seguin, who has been out since Game 2 of the first-round series against Minnesota with a lower-body injury, there was not much new. Seguin is skating on his own.

“Skating but not ready to play,” Ruff said.

The NHL Friday announced start times for Game 6 and Game 7 (if necessary) of the Stars-Blues series.

Game 6, which will be played Monday in St. Louis, will start at 7 p.m. Central Time. The game will be televised on NBCSN and heard on The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM.

Game 7 – if necessary – will be played Wednesday in Dallas. The start time for that game will be 7 p.m. Central Time. The game will be televised on NBCSN and heard on The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM.

“I’d hate to state the obvious and tell you who is playing goal, but I think you can make a pretty good guess after the last game.”

- Stars coach Lindy Ruff during an interview on The Ticket Friday evening

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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