Hitchcock takes on familiar foe as Blues host Stars

Ken Hitchcock once led Dallas to a Stanley Cup title, but tonight he'll be coaching the St. Louis Blues as they host the Stars in a Western Conference clash at Scottrade Center.

Hitchcock was behind the bench for the Stars when they won the only championship in their history in 1999. He was fired by the Stars in 2002 and has since coached in Philadelphia, Columbus and now St. Louis, after he took over for the fired Davis Payne earlier this season.

Since taking over for the Blues in early November, the club has gone 14-3-4 and St. Louis has rocketed up the standings. The Blues are second in the Central Division with 44 points and trail Chicago by four for the division lead. St. Louis is also tied with Vancouver for the fourth seed in the West.

Meanwhile, Dallas enters tonight tied with San Jose for first in the Pacific with 41 points and the Stars have won two of three and five of their last seven games.

The Stars recorded a 3-2 home win over the Blues back on Oct. 13, giving Dallas wins in five straight meetings in this series. Dallas has also won two in a row and three of the last four matchups in the Gateway City.

The Blues last played Friday evening in Phoenix and St. Louis earned a 3-2 decision thanks to Jason Arnott's game-winning goal early in the third period. It was the sixth victory in eight games for St. Louis.

Matt D'Agostini and Alex Steen also scored for St. Louis, while Brian Elliott made 24 saves for the win.

"We have shown flashes of what it takes to win on the road, but we have a ways to go," Hitchcock said.

St. Louis has a 13-3-1 record at home compared to a 7-7-3 mark on the road. The Blues have won five straight as the host and last lost at the Scottrade Center on Dec, 3 against Chicago.

The Stars went 2-1 on a recent three-game homestand and they ended the residency with Friday's 6-3 win over Nashville. Michael Ryder had a goal and two assists as Dallas scored three goals in the first period and held off a couple pushes by the Predators at American Airlines Center.

Steve Ott, Loui Eriksson and Mike Ribeiro each tallied a goal and an assist, while Richard Bachman stopped 34 shots for the Stars.

"A lot of times when you can go and score quick goals like that usually the other teams comes back like they did tonight, but we were able to contain them at 3-2 and always have the lead," said Ribeiro. "The most important thing is to add those two points."

Stars defenseman Sheldon Souray left in the second period of Friday's game with an ankle injury and did not return. Souray, who has four goals and 12 assists this season, is questionable for tonight.

Dallas is 9-8-0 as the visiting team this year. The Stars will return to Big D for a three-game homestand following tonight's tilt.