The Dallas Stars are inching closer to where they want to be- The inside looking out on the Western Conference playoff picture.
Three consecutive overtime/shootout losses has the floundering Phoenix Coyotes three points ahead of the Stars at 47, but Ruff's bunch has a game in hand there and three in hand on the Minnesota Wild, who sit just a single notch above Dallas at 45.
A win against the Blues moves them up another notch tonight.
St. Louis is coming off a dramatic 6-5 come-from-behind win at home over the Chicago Blackhawks after Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrik Berglund scored 1:17 apart to tie things late before a shootout winner from Kevin Shattenkirk in the fifth round sealed the deal.
It was St. Louis' first home sellout of the season at 20,082.
Tonight marks Brenden Morrow's first return to the American Airlines Center since being traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins last spring. The reception figures to be warm, bordering on fuzzy.
Remember, the puck drops early at 5:00pm CST this afternoon on Fox Sports Southwest.
Dallas is coming off a big win over Nashville but must now figure out a way to deal with the NHL's best goal differential club (+1.16) and third-best offensive output (3.47 goals per game) in the St. Louis Blues.
An illness is circulating in the Stars' locker room and Alex Chiasson has been affected the most. Head coach Lindy Ruff commented on his weight loss after his "healthy" scratch Friday against the Predators, and now the Stars are bordering on shorthanded after sending Colton Sceviour back to the Texas Stars yesterday (though he could be re-called today...)
With Aaron Rome back in and Sergei Gonchar's continued absence due to concussion-like symptoms, the Stars figure to have largely the same lineup again tonight:
Kari Lehtonen figures to get the start in net again tonight for Dallas.
From Stars PR: "The Stars host the St. Louis Blues on Sunday in the second of five tilts scheduled this season between the two Central Division foes. Dallas has won four of its last six games against the Blues at American Airlines Center, having gone 4-2-0 since the start of the 2010-11 campaign. Goaltender KARI LEHTONEN boasts an 8-3-0 record overall against St. Louis, and is 5-0-0 against the Blues on home ice."
St. Louis has feasted at home this season with a favorable split, going 15-3-2 in 20 games at Scottrade Center out of 37 total. They're 10-4-3 on the road, however, excelling no matter the locale.
They've allowed more than three just three times this year on the road, losing all three, and have only failed to earn points in San Jose, Los Angeles, Washington and Tampa Bay.
They're having to deal with the loss of Alex Steen, out on injured reserve with a concussion while leading the team in scoring with 38 points in 35 games.
"We sure do miss some great and important players, but we still have to get points, win games," said Berglund after the win. "Obviously, a good start for that is to come back against this team and in this building."
The Blues have, since an opening week win in Chicago, beaten just a single Western Conference playo-caliber team: The Colorado Avalanche on November 27th by a score of 4-1. Their schedule figures even itself out, and the Stars could be in position to start taking advantage of it tonight as they catch Hitchock's bunch on a back-to-back set.
Derek Roy makes his return to Dallas tonight, too, oh by the way.
- 2014 World Junior Championship: USA Wins, Czech Republic Beats Canada In SO On Day Three
- Dallas Stars Daily Links: Stars Move Within a Point of Minnesota, Two Back of Phoenix
- 2014 World Junior Championships: Live Thread, USA vs Slovakia (6:30am CST)
- Dallas Stars, Erik Cole Vanquish the Nashville Predators With 4-1 Victory
- 2014 World Junior Championship: Slovakia, Finland Debut With Wins On Slow Day Two