Preview: Blues at Stars
The upstart Dallas Stars shook off an early series deficit to win three in a row to oust Nashville in six games in the opening round of the playoffs and now have a chance to do the same to the St. Louis Blues. After taking their first series lead Friday night, the Stars can wrap up their Western Conference semifinal against the visiting Blues in Sunday afternoon's Game 6.
Seventh-seeded Dallas leveled the series with a 4-2 victory at home in Game 4 and pushed St. Louis to the brink of elimination with Friday's 2-1 win as it vies to reach the conference finals for the first time since 2007-08. "We just have to collect ourselves, get some rest, and get ready for a game," Stars forward Jason Spezza told reporters. "We have a good opportunity to close out the series on home ice, and we have to make the most of it." The Blues have been stalwarts away from home, winning four in a row in the playoffs before the Game 4 defeat, and now must conjure up some more road magic to send the series back to St. Louis for a deciding Game 7. "Got to win or you go home, simple as that," forward Jaden Schwartz told reporters. "The desperation level needs to be the highest it has ever been. We've got to play our best game, and we feel confident going in there."
TV: 3 p.m. ET, NBC, Sportsnet, TVA
ABOUT THE BLUES: After scoring at least one power-play goal in five straight postseason games, St. Louis has hit a dry spell by converting on only 1 of 14 chances in the last four contests and fanning on all four situations Friday night. The most frustrating part for the Blues was the inability to generate pressure with the extra skater, mustering five total shots Friday. "I think execution has got to be way better," Schwartz told the media. "As soon as the execution picks up, then the swagger will come, the confidence will come, and that's when we start getting chances."
ABOUT THE STARS: Although he made a costly turnover that led to St. Louis' lone goal in the third period, Ben Bishop turned aside a series-high 38 shots, including 14 in the final 20 minutes to stymie a comeback bid. Dallas coach Jim Montgomery called the St. Louis native and Vezina Trophy finalist "the difference for us. ... He's been the difference for us many times this year. He's just someone who responds. He's our brick wall back there." Forward Jason Spezza, relegated to fourth-line duty, has scored in back-to-back games and boasts three tallies in the series.
1. Dallas has snuffed out 29 of 31 short-handed situations in the postseason, including 14 of 16 versus St. Louis.
2. Schwartz has a team-high seven goals in the playoffs after scoring 11 times in the regular season.
3. Stars Fs Alexander Radulov and Tyler Seguin each collected an assist Friday to boost their team-high totals to 10 points.
PREDICTION: Stars 3, Blues 2