Stars-Blues Preview

The Associated Press

Though the St. Louis Blues have struggled to score of late, goaltender Brian Elliott and a solid defense have kept them in playoff position.

An offensive barrage helped the Dallas Stars continue their push to break into the top eight in the Western Conference.

Each team looks to build on its latest victory when the Blues host the Stars on Friday night.

David Perron scored his first goal in 17 games and Elliott made 33 saves in St. Louis' 2-1 home shootout win over Phoenix on Thursday.

The Blues (25-16-2) are 8-2-0 this month but have scored two or fewer goals in seven straight games - five of which they've won. St. Louis, which has allowed eight goals during that span, is sixth in the West.

Coach Ken Hitchcock, though, was not pleased with his team's play late in the third period, or the officials, Thursday. St. Louis' Alex Pietrangelo was checked from behind by the Coyotes' Martin Hanzal without a penalty being called. The puck was ultimately freed up on the play just before Radim Vrbata's power-play goal tied the game for Phoenix with 1:07 to go.

"We can't play like that at this time of the year,'' Hitchcock said. "Even if you do get into the playoffs, there's too many holes in your game.

"The goalie saved us (Thursday)."

Elliott has allowed four goals on 148 shots while winning five of his last six starts. However, he's 0-2-0 with a 3.65 ERA against the Stars (22-18-3). Elliott made 23 saves in a 4-1 loss at Dallas on March 3.

Perron has four goals in his last three games versus Dallas, and at least one point (two goals, seven assists) in seven career home games against the Stars.

Dallas won 5-1 over Vancouver on Thursday to bounce back from a 5-2 loss at Chicago three nights earlier - it's only defeat in seven contests. Jamie Benn and Cody Eakin each had a goal with an assist and Kari Lehtonen stopped 37 shots in his return from a three-game absence due to a groin injury.

The Stars, who have scored five goals four times in six games, are tied with Detroit for ninth place in the West - two points behind Columbus for the eighth and final playoff spot.

Dallas has not been to the postseason since 2008.

"We obviously know how tight the standings are,'' Benn said. "We had our game in hand (Thursday) and we got the two huge points that we needed.''

The Stars conclude the regular season with home games against the Blue Jackets and Red Wings.

"From here on now, we kind of control our own destiny and every game is big for us," Eakin said. "We're ready to give our all, and scratch and claw every chance we get, and play our game from here on in.''

Benn has three goals in two games after going without one in seven straight contests. He has a goal and two assists in his last three games versus St. Louis.

The Stars and Blues split the first two meetings of 2013 - both at Dallas. St. Louis is looking for a third straight home win in the series.

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