Preview: Blues at Stars
The St. Louis Blues needed a huge second-half surge last season en route to winning the first Stanley Cup in franchise history, and they hardly look like a team ready to relinquish that title. Owners of the best record in the Western Conference, the Blues will face one of their top challengers when they visit the red-hot Dallas Stars on Friday night.
Dallas overcame a dreadful start and surged up the standings in the Central Division, closing within four points of St. Louis on the heels of a franchise-record seven-game winning streak that was snapped in a 3-0 loss at Chicago on Tuesday. "We've worked hard to dig ourselves out of that (1-7-1) hole and put us in a good position at Thanksgiving," forward Joe Pavelski said after his team's 12-game point streak (11-0-1) ended Tuesday. "But now it's about getting right back after it and playing the same type of hockey we've been playing." The Blues seized control of the division with a seven-game winning streak of their own following a devastating injury to star forward Vladimir Tarasenko and are 3-2-3 in their last eight entering the finale of a rugged three-game road trip. "Everyone on this team from top to bottom can step up and maybe take over a little more of a role or change their role a little bit to help the team be successful," forward Zach Sanford said after Wednesday's 4-3 win at Tampa Bay. "We've been doing a good job with it."
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, Sportsnet East/West/Pacific, FS Midwest (St. Louis), FS Southwest-Plus (Dallas)
ABOUT THE BLUES (15-5-6): Already missing forwards Tarasenko, Alexander Steen and Sammy Blais, St. Louis absorbed another hit when Oskar Sundqvist was placed on injured reserve Thursday due to a lower-body injury sustained in Tuesday's win. Sundqvist scored twice before he was hurt to give him five goals in his last five games. “It’s gonna be a while, probably,” coach Craig Berube said Thursday. “We don’t know for sure. When we get back home and our doctors look at him, MRI and things like that, we’ll know more.”
ABOUT THE STARS (15-9-2): Dallas was limited to two goals or fewer seven times during its dismal 1-7-1 start to the season but scored at least four goals eight times during the just-concluded 12-game point streak. "You can say it's working a little bit harder, going to the hard areas, going to the net more, getting shots on net, simple things like that," forward Jason Dickinson said. Netminder Ben Bishop has not lost in his last seven starts (6-0-0) and is 2-2-0 with eight goals allowed in his last four against St. Louis.
1. St. Louis recalled F Austin Poganski from San Antonio of the American Hockey League.
2. Stars F Tyler Seguin has seven goals and 25 points in 30 games versus St. Louis.
3. Blues D Robert Bortuzzo will serve the third of his four-game suspension for cross-checking Nashville's Viktor Arvidsson.
PREDICTION: Stars 3, Blues 2