The St. Louis Blues arrive at the American Airlines Center in Dallas offering double the injurious intent, potentially.
First they graciously allowed the Minnesota Wild, one of the gaggle of teams the Stars are chasing in the Wild Card hunt, a victory Saturday night despite out-shooting them 42-19 (really?)- And now they'll attempt to make it a full four-point hurt on the Stars with a win this afternoon.
St. Louis has been friendly, however- Defeating the Winnipeg Jets twice in recent weeks while losing to Dallas at home on February 17th. Jamie Benn's first career hat trick, you may recall.
The Blues are doing something that is vaguely reminiscient of struggling at home lately at 4-5-0 in their last nine (if only that were the definition of struggling at home for others...) but remain a absolute rock on the road, as has Dallas, with a 10-2-1 mark in their last 13.
In that span they are scoring 3.46 goals per game. On the road. In a two month sample size. A goal/game average greater than the best offensive teams in the league. It's an embarrassment of riches, and they aim it at the Stars this afternoon.
They claim a 5-5-1 on the second night of back-to-back this year. What it takes to beat them, evidently, is a transcendental goaltending performance like they saw last night:
Devan Dubnyk makes season-high 41 saves in 3-1 win. He is 20-5-1 with a 1.66 GAA, a .939 SV% and five shutouts in 27 starts with #mnwild.— Minnesota Wild PR (@mnwildPR) March 15, 2015
Kari Lehtonen will likely get the start after a couple of stellar outings against lesser Eastern conference fare. He and the Stars will have to fight through opposition with much more skill and poise as the season wears quickly down if they're to edge their way back into the playoff race unexpectedly.
Four different goaltenders have tried with a plethora of different defensive and offensive lineups and the results have been the same- The Stars have been one of the league's worst home teams this season, losing 21 versus just 13 wins.
"It's not a matter of being at home or on the road," Shawn Horcoff told local media. "It's the type of game we are playing at home. It's high turnovers and high-risk plays. That's not the type of hockey that you want to play, especially this time of year, if you want to win games."
Translation: The Stars have kept their game plan simple on the road of late, and may feel that they're trying to do too much at home. Whether or not they made reservations at the 'W' last night while there's still time to maybe, perhaps, save their season is unknown- But they face another must-win either way this afternoon.
John Klingberg (upper-body) could be a real possibility to return today after going through a practice yesterday.
Jake Allen is expected to start in the St. Louis goal. They'll be missing Kevin Shattenkirk and Olli Jokinen, reportedly.
All eyes should be on Lehtera and Tarasenko this evening- You've seen what they've done to the Stars so far this year, including Tarasenko's singular performance in this building already. Young legs and talent like that are not suscepted to back-to-back woes.
From Stars PR:
STARS ALUMNI TO PLAY BLUES ALUMNI FOR CHARITY
Following Sunday's contest between the Stars and Blues, the Dallas Stars Alumni Association will host the second annual Community Chest Charity Game presented by Black Diamond Group. The game will begin at 8 p.m. and will include members of the St. Louis Blues Alumni Association. Local area youth hockey players will have the opportunity to play alongside Stars and Blues Alumni through fundraising on behalf of the Community Chest. Former NHL players scheduled to appear in the game include Stu Barnes, Bob Bassen, Martin Brodeur, Ed Belfour, Kelly Chase, Craig Ludwig, Kirk Muller, Joe Nieuwendyk, Al Secord and Marty Turco. For a complete game roster and more information about the game, please visit DallasStars.com/AlumniGame.