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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, April 7th (All times Eastern)
St. Louis Blues (48-22-11) at Dallas Stars (42-34-5), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The St. Louis Blues are out of the running for the Presidents' Trophy, but they will try to do their part to claim the top seed in the Western Conference when they close the regular season by visiting the Dallas Stars tonight at American Airlines Center.
The Blues were eliminated from the race for the Presidents' Trophy after losing in regulation to visiting Phoenix on Friday. St. Louis, which is currently two points behind Vancouver for the No. 1 seed in the West, can take the conference's top spot if it wins tonight and the Canucks lose in regulation this evening against Edmonton.
St. Louis was dealt a 4-1 loss by the Coyotes on Friday, as Mike Smith stopped 31-of-32 shots for Phoenix. Patrik Berglund scored the lone goal for the Blues, who have dropped four consecutive games (0-2-2).
"This is what happens when you play with skill ahead of work," Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock said after the loss. "This is what happens when you don't want to put your work boots on and the other team doesn't want to have anything to do with it. They pushed us out of the game competitively wise."
Brian Elliott was tagged for all four goals on 32 shots and Jaroslav Halak will get the start in net tonight. Both of the Blues' goaltenders have had terrific regular seasons, but it's still unclear who will start for St. Louis in Game 1 of the Western Conference quarterfinals next week.
After Friday's regulation loss, the Blues finished the regular season with a 30-6-5 home record. St. Louis is just 18-16-6 as the visiting club.
The Stars, meanwhile, will try to end a four-game slide that ultimately led to Dallas missing the playoffs for a fourth straight season.
After a 3-1 win in Edmonton on March 28, the Stars held a one-point lead atop the highly-competitive Pacific Division. However, Dallas went 0-4 in its next four games and was officially eliminated from playoff contention after Thursday's 2-0 setback in Nashville.
The Stars fired 28 shots at Pekka Rinne and the Predators goaltender stopped every one to record his fifth shutout of the season. Kari Lehtonen made 29 saves for the Stars, who are just 3-8 since a six-game winning streak from March 2-13.
"It's tough because obviously we're out and it's never fun again," said Dallas forward Steve Ott. "It's the worst feeling for a professional hockey player."
Dallas is 22-15-3 as the host this year, but has lost three of its last five home games.
St. Louis has taken two in a row from the Stars after dropping the previous five encounters. The Blues have still lost three straight and four of their last six games in Big D.
04/07 10:57:42 ET
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