With their destiny in their own hands, the Dallas Stars begin a three-game road trip on Friday night as they take on the surging St. Louis Blues.
Despite having dealt away the likes of Jaromir Jagr, Derek Roy and Brenden Morrow prior to the April 3 trade deadline, the Stars enter play tied with the Detroit Red Wings for ninth place in the Western Conference. The two clubs are just two points back of the eighth-place Columbus Blue Jackets with two games in hand.
The Stars, though, can take care of business themselves. In addition to the games in hand over the Blue Jackets, they host Columbus on April 25 following their road trip through St. Louis, Los Angeles and San Jose and then end the regular season at home versus Detroit.
Dallas has won six of its past seven games and rolled to a 5-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night. The Stars scored five straight after yielding Roy's tally at the 6:38 mark of the second period.
Jamie Benn and Cody Eakin both had a goal and an assist, while Ray Whitney, Vernon Fiddler and Erik Cole added goals. Kari Lehtonen made 37 saves in his return from a three-game absence caused by a groin injury.
"I thought it was a hard fought game," said Dallas head coach Glen Gulutzan. "They played hard. I thought we stuck with it and stuck to the game plan most of the night against a good team."
The Blues are just as hot as the Stars, having won eight of their last 10 games. Thursday night's 2-1 shootout win over the Phoenix Coyotes has St. Louis sixth overall in the West, a point ahead of the Minnesota Wild and five up on Dallas and Detroit with five games to play.
Andy McDonald had the lone shootout goal last night, scoring in the first round, while Brian Elliott stopped all three skaters he faced after making 33 saves through overtime.
"I'd rather win it in regulation," Elliott said. "Getting that first goal is huge in the shootout, it gives you a little breathing room."
David Perron had the lone goal in regulation for the Blues, who wrap a four- game homestand tonight. They will then play in Colorado on Sunday before concluding the regular season with three straight at home.
St. Louis is 11-8-1 as the host this year, while Dallas has gone 11-9-1 on the road.
The Stars snapped a four-game slide to the Blues with a 4-1 home victory on March 3 and the clubs have split their last six meetings in St. Louis.