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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, April 11th (All times Eastern)

St. Louis Blues (52-21-7) at Dallas Stars (39-30-11), 8:30 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - All the Dallas Stars need is a win and the club will earn its first trip to the playoffs since 2008. The Stars hope to get that victory on Friday night when they host the slumping St. Louis Blues at American Airlines Center.

Dallas is two points ahead of Phoenix for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference. After the Coyotes lost Thursday in Nashville, the Stars can lock up a postseason berth with a win of any kind against the Blues. A Dallas victory also would render the Stars' season-ending game in Phoenix on Sunday meaningless.

The Blues, meanwhile, clinched a playoff spot long ago, but could be costing themselves the Central Division title with an 0-4-0 slide.

The club's longest losing streak of the season has allowed Colorado to tie St. Louis for first place in the Central. Both teams enter Friday with identical 52-21-7 records, but the Blues can't catch the Avalanche in the non-shootout wins category, which is the first tiebreaker.

The Avalanche, who are 8-0-1 over their last nine games, visit the San Jose Sharks on Friday. Both the Avs and Blues will have one game left in the regular season after tonight, with Colorado visiting Anaheim on Sunday and the Blues hosting Detroit the same day.

St. Louis dropped a 4-2 decision Thursday in Minnesota and also lost forward T.J. Oshie to injury in the process.

Oshie was hurt when Minnesota forward Mike Rupp caught him with a shoulder to the head in the second period.The hit, which occurred on a delayed high- sticking penalty to Wild defenseman Marco Scandella, drew a match penalty.

"Obviously, (Oshie) is out. He's like everything else at this time of year, he's day-to-day, but certainly a tough hit to take right now," said Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock.

Oshie is second on the Blues with 60 points this season. He'll join Blues forwards Brenden Morrow (foot) and David Backes (lower body) on the shelf.

Ryan Miller was pulled in the third period after allowing four goals on just 13 shots. Brian Elliott faced only two shots in relief and stopped them both.

Miller, who fell to 10-6-1 since coming over from Buffalo in a trade, is expected to get the start tonight. He is 4-2-1 with a 2.92 goals against average in seven career games against Dallas.

The Blues fell to 24-13-3 as the road team this season.

Dallas has lost two of three and three of its last five games and is coming off Wednesday's setback against visiting Columbus in the replay of a suspended game from American Airlines Center. The Blue Jackets entered the game with a 1-0 lead and picked up a 3-1 victory to clinch an playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The original matchup, begun on March 10, was ended after almost 6 1/2 minutes elapsed in the first period when Stars forward Rich Peverley suffered a cardiac episode on the bench. Wednesday's game was replayed from the start, but the visitors were allowed to keep their 1-0 lead, thanks to a Nathan Horton goal.

Once play resumed, Artem Anisimov and Mark Letestu lit the lamp for the Blue Jackets. Anisimov needed only 93 seconds after the opening faceoff to extend his club's advantage, sliding a low shot inside the left post from atop the crease.

"When you give up an early goal, it certainly took the life out of the building," said Stars head coach Lindy Ruff. "It was a little bit of a bad break. We tried to reverse the puck, it hit the stanchion and came right back to him."

Trevor Daley provided the sole offense for the Stars, and Tim Thomas made 23 saves in a shaky performance between the pipes.

Dallas is 22-11-7 as the host and has one last chance to improve that mark on Friday.

The Blues and Stars have split four meetings so far in 2013-14, but Dallas won the two most recent encounters, which were both played in St. Louis. The Blues have claimed seven of 10 overall in this series and three of the last four meetings in Big D.

04/11 10:48:15 ET

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