Stars look to keep their guard up vs. Blues
Dallas Stars at St. Louis Blues
- Dallas lost, 5-2, to Nashville at AA Center on Tuesday night, snapping its season-high five-game win streak in the process. The Stars have won three straight road tilts, outscoring their opponents by a combined 14-5 in those victories.
- St. Louis defeated Montreal, 4-3, at Bell Centre on Tuesday night, ending its season-long losing streak at three straight games. The Blues have potted four or more goals 14 times in 2017-18 -- tied with three others for second most in the league (NYI -- 15).
- The Blues won the first match of the year with the Stars, 4-2, at Scottrade Center on October 7. Dating to the beginning of 2015-16, St. Louis has won six straight home games vs. Dallas overall, with four of those victories decided by one goal.
- Jamie Oleksiak had two points Tuesday night, including his first goal of the year (had just one point in first 18 games of the year). Oleksiak also got into it with Austin Watson of the Preds Tuesday night, recording the first Gordie Howe hat trick of his NHL career, and the second by any Dallas skater this season (also Tyler Seguin on October 14 vs. Colorado).
- Brayden Schenn lit the lamp three times Tuesday night, recording the third hat trick of his NHL career, and giving him a team-high tying 13 markers on the year (tied with Jaden Schwartz). Schenn has five points in his last three skates against the Stars, including a three-goal game on December 10 last season.
- Dallas is 0-6-1 (.071) when trailing after the first frame in 2017-18 -- tied with Boston for worst in the NHL. St. Louis is 7-0-1 (.938) when leading after one period in 2017-18 (fourth best in hockey).
ST. LOUIS -- Ken Hitchcock has been coaching in the NHL long enough to know that sometimes the difference between winning and losing can be every minute.
He said there was a simple explanation after seeing his Dallas Stars' five-game winning streak come to an end versus the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night.
"When you play teams that are veteran hockey clubs that are perennial playoff teams, they kind of wait for you to make the mistakes," Hitchcock said. "That's what Nashville did and that's what St. Louis does -- they wait until you make the mistake and then they pounce.
"We've really avoided making those errors for the last little while, that's why we won so much, but (on Tuesday) we did make those errors."
Hitchcock hopes his team can avoid repeating those mistakes when they take on the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night, a challenge that Jamie Benn and his teammates relish.
"When you lose a game or things don't go your way, you get a chance to get right back at it," Benn said. "And when you're winning, you have a chance to continue the success that you've had, so we're looking forward to another good test.
"St. Louis is a great team and it's going to be tough to play in their building. They're pretty good at home, so we'll have our hands full."
The Blues have stumbled of late as well, having gone 0-2-1 over a three-game stretch before bouncing back with a 4-3 win Tuesday night in Montreal behind Brayden Schenn's third career hat trick.
"I think things haven't really bounced our way lately, but I really do believe when you approach the game the way that we did, I felt that we earned the confidence in the game to know that we still deserved to win the hockey game," Blues coach Mike Yeo told NHL.com. "And we could have certainly put our heads down and felt sorry for ourselves, but our guys didn't do that. We got right back on the attack and got aggressive in our game."
Schenn's big night came after he had gone five consecutive games without registering a point.
"Eighty-two games, it's not going to be perfect throughout the whole time," Schenn said. "You're going to have to grind, you're going to have to battle. Sometimes it's going to be difficult and you just have to find ways to push through it."
Nobody knows that more than Schenn's linemate, Vladimir Tarasenko, who comes into the contest against the Stars without a goal in his last six games.
Kari Lehtonen is scheduled to start in goal for the Stars as regular goalie Ben Bishop did not make the trip to his hometown because of a sore back.
"We'll bring somebody in to back up Lehts," Hitchcock said. "I think it's day-to-day (with Bishop). That's what we were told. We're assuming he will be fine for the weekend."
The Blues are expected to start Jake Allen in goal, and he hopes to avoid a repeat of what happened to him in Montreal when he broke a skate blade and had to come out of the game.
"I've never had that happen in my life," Allen said. "I made a left save with my pad and I looked down and my right skate was broken. ... I don't know what happened."
Updated December 7, 2017