Dallas Stars (+105) at St. Louis Blues (-114, 5.5 o/u)
Separated by only six points, the Dallas Stars (37-15-5, 79 pts) and St. Louis Blues (32-17-9, 73 pts) will clash tonight in a Central Division battle at the Scottrade Center (8:00 PM Eastern).
The Blues are third in the division with 73 points, behind Chicago and Dallas, but they have won two straight and are 6-2-2 in the last ten. Credit backup goalie Brian Elliott for much of the recent success; Elliott has posted a 9-3-2 record and a 1.72 goals against average since starter Jake Allen went down with a lower-body injury.
Elliott’s play has helped weather the storm since defenseman Alex Pietrangelo was lost to a knee injury three games ago. The Blues’ leader in ice-time (26:40 per game) is expected to miss at least three weeks. The Blues lost 2-1 to the Jets without their stud defenseman, but rebounded with road wins over the Panthers (5-3) and Lightning (2-1) in their last two.
“This defense has really rallied around missing [Pietrangelo],” said coach Ken Hitchcock to the Associated Press. “It looks like we found some rhythm. We’re starting to really play well and we have to keep playing well.”
Hitchcock will be hoping his team’s third-ranked defense (2.3 goals against per game) can muster the same magic tonight against the high-scoring Stars.
Dallas has been an offensive juggernaut all season thanks, in large part, to snipers Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. Dallas is averaging 3.2 goals per game, second-most in the league, and have won seven of their last eight games, including a 4-3 victory on Saturday over the league-leading Capitals.
They followed their win over Washington with a 3-2 victory over Nashville on Monday.
“We wanted to keep rolling,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said to the AP. “I thought it was a heck of a hockey game. It was who was going to finish or which goalie was going to give in a little bit, and neither one wanted to give in.”
The win over Nashville came without Seguin. The center was sidelined with a cut on his arm (suffered on a freak play against Washington), but he’s expected back in the lineup tonight.
St. Louis took the first two games in the series this season, but Dallas won the most recent meeting, 3-0. All three games were low-scoring affairs that ended under the game total. Roll with that trend to continue tonight.
Pick: UNDER (5.5).
(Photo credit: Lisa Gansky from New York, NY, USA (IMG_6077) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)