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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Sunday, December 29th (All times Eastern)

St. Louis Blues (25-7-5) at Dallas Stars (19-12-6), 6 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Dallas Stars aim to push their point streak to six games and avenge a lopsided loss earlier this season to the St. Louis Blues as the two clubs clash on Sunday night.

The Stars won the opener of a five-game homestand on Friday, besting the Nashville Predators 4-1. Jamie Benn scored 42 seconds into the game and Erik Cole tallied twice.

Ryan Garbutt also lit the lamp and Kari Lehtonen made 33 saves as the Stars moved to 4-0-1 in their last five games. They also won their third straight as the host and are 5-1-2 in the past eight at home.

Dallas has not allowed more than two goals in a game during its point streak.

"We put the puck in the right spot a lot of the times and were able to create some pressure, and we have numbers back when teams are coming out," said Dallas head coach Lindy Ruff. "We have to give our forwards a lot of credit for coming back and doing the work their doing and getting shot leads and blocking more shots."

Defenseman Aaron Rome returned to the lineup after missing four games in a row with a hip injury, but forward Alex Chiasson was unable to play for a second straight contest due to the flu. He was able to take part in morning skate.

Illness, though, kept forwards Cody Eakin and Rich Peverley off the ice on Saturday as well as defenseman Alex Goligoski.

The Stars have lost six of their last seven meetings with the Blues, including a 6-1 setback in St. Louis on Nov. 23. Brian Elliott made 34 saves in the win and six different Blues scored.

Lehtonen started but didn't finish the contest, pulled after surrendering five goals on 18 shots in 45:33 of game time. Dan Ellis finished up with six saves.

Despite the rough outing, Lehtonen still has good career numbers versus the Blues, going 8-4-0 with a 1.92 goals against average in 14 games (12 starts).

Dallas has won four of its past six at home versus St. Louis.

The Blues have still yet to lose in regulation against a Central Division foe this season, moving to 11-0-1 with last night's 6-5 shootout win over the first-place Chicago Blackhawks.

St. Louis rallied from a pair of two-goal deficits, forcing extra time when Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrik Berglund scored 1:17 apart late in the third period.

Kevin Shattenkirk later had the third and deciding tally for the Blues in the shootout as Elliott stopped Brandon Saad to close the fifth round and the game.

"They couldn't handle us in their zone and we couldn't handle them in our zone," said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock. "I was happy we stayed with it. It wasn't pretty for either team but we found a way to get two points, which is a heck of a bonus for us."

Tarasenko had two assists, Dmitrij Jaskin notched his first career goal in his fourth NHL game and Elliott made 17 saves in relief of Jaroslav Halak, who yielded three goals on 13 shots in the first period.

St. Louis improved to 6-1-2 in its last nine games despite dealing with a number of injuries. The biggest is to leading scorer Alex Steen, who is second in the NHL with 24 goals but was placed on injured reserve because of a concussion.

Vladimir Sobotka was set to return last night from an upper-body injury, but tweaked the ailment in morning skate and sat out. Also, Derek Roy missed the game due to illness and David Backes suffered an upper-body injury during the contest.

Still, the Blues pulled within six points of the Blackhawks for first place.

Elliott was scheduled to start tonight's game prior to his relief appearance and is 2-2-0 with a 2.39 GAA in his career versus the Stars.

12/29 10:23:16 ET

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