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Preview: St. Louis Blues @ Dallas Stars (7:30pm CDT)

Win a game. Lose a game. Another attempt to break the cycle comes tonight against a very good Blues team.

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The story of the Dallas Stars' season as the halfway point rapidly approaches continues to be the lack of that which they did with such express facility in 2015- Score goals.

An Adam Cracknell goal held up Saturday as the game winner- Just the second on the day before an empty netter. An outing against the Rangers preceding that yielded no offense of which to speak. Three total goals in a back-to-back set the weekend before produced losses.

Outside their sudden five-goal spasm against the Anaheim Ducks last week, the Stars have scored six non-empty-net goals in their last 14 periods. Not enough, and Lindy Ruff was talking about it even after a win-

"When you don’t maintain a high-enough level of even-strength scoring with our top players, I’m looking at changing the lines to try to nudge that in the right direction,"Ruff said of his shuffling. "When I went back to my numbers, even-strength scoring on the road trip from Calgary-to-Edmonton-to-Vancouver, the Rousell-Seguin-Eaves was a good line. Faksa-Benn-Korpikoski was a line that was scoring even-strength. Just trying to play some hunches and some numbers."

The coach has to go back to November 10th and 11th to mine ideas- The first and only time the team won back-to-back contests this year.

Still, those combinations didn't seem to stick in practice Monday. Patrick Eaves took his usual maintenance day, and Patrick Sharp practiced in his stead prior to Ruff commenting that he is getting "closer" again.

Also in "again" news, Johnny Oduya is "unlikely" to play today and is considered day-to-day.

Lines in practice were reported as these-

  • Benn-Seguin-Sharp

  • Roussel-Faksa-Ritchie
  • Korpikoski-Spezza-Hudler
  • McKenzie-Shore-Cracknell

  • Lindell-Klingberg

  • Hamhuis-Johns
  • Nemeth-Benn/Oleksiak

Antti Niemi continues to perform well at home- Really anywhere- And the Stars are expected to ride that train as long as it’s still chugging along.

Lindy Ruff’s comments about even-strength scoring is highlighted this evening by the stingy Blues, who allowed a power play goal against once but it’s hard to remember as it’s only happened once in their last nine games.

The Blues controlled play for 56 minutes against the Stars when last the two met in November- Until Jamie Oleksiak managed to get a game-tying goal in from long range that sent the game to overtime. Dallas could not survive Tarasenko, however, and took the loss, as did the Blues last night.

The Edmonton Oilers out-shot the Blues 35-27 in St. Louis tonight on their way to a game-winner in the extra frame by Nugent-Hopkins. The loss makes the fourth in their last five games- And somehow they’re still 17-11-5 on the year.

Puck drops at 7:37 tonight at the American Airlines Center.

BLUES CLUES

The Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues meet on Tuesday night at American Airlines Center for the third of four games during the 2016-17 regular season. The Stars have a 1-0-1 record this season against the Blues and a perfect 1-0-0 mark at American Airlines Center. Dallas has points in seven of their last nine games against the Blues on home ice (4-2-3). The two clubs meet for the second time in Dallas, where the Stars defeated the Blues, 6-2, in the first game of the season on Nov. 3. Forward Tyler Seguin recorded a season-high four points (0-4=4), captain Jamie Benn added a season-best three assists (0-3=3) and defenseman John Klingberg tied a career-high with two goals (2-0=2). Goaltender Antti Niemi stopped 28-of-30 shots to record his third victory of the 2016-17 campaign. In the most recent game of the season series on Nov. 28 at Scottrade Center, the Blues defeated the Stars in overtime, 4-3. Jamie Benn leads all Stars skaters with six points (1-5=6) in two games this season against the Blues. On special teams, the Stars are 2-for-7 (28.6%) on the power play and have killed off 6-of-7 (85.7%) of the Blues' opportunities with the man-advantage.

UPPING THE ANTTI

Goaltender Antti Niemi stopped 31-of-32 shots on Saturday afternoon and recorded the win against the Flyers, helping the Stars snap Philadelphia's 10-game win streak. Niemi has now turned aside 93 of the last 97 shots he's faced and has posted a .959 save percentage and a 1.36 goals against average over his last three games (2-1-0) on home ice. This season, Niemi has a 7-2-1 record at American Airlines Center and has posted a .943 SV% with a 1.81 GAA and has recorded wins in four of his last five starts on home ice. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Niemi ranks second among NHL goaltenders in SV% and third in GAA on home ice this season (minimum 10 games started). During the 2016-17 season against the Blues, Niemi has started both games (1-0-1) and has stopped 55-of-61 shots faced, posting a .902 SV% with a 2.93 GAA. The native of Vantaa, Finland holds a 10-9-3 career record against St. Louis with a .899 SV% and a 2.98 GAA.