The NHL's Central Division race will heat up when the first-place St. Louis Blues host the third-place Dallas Stars on Saturday night.
The Blues have won six consecutive games, including a 5-1 victory at Dallas Feb. 21. The Stars are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games and have been strong overall (18-11-4) on the road.
Dallas sits six points back off the division lead with a game in hand after suffering a hard-fought 4-3 loss in Boston on Thursday night.
That loss against the Eastern Conference-leading Bruins prepared the Stars to face the Blues, who are atop the Western Conference standings.
"We're going to learn from it," Stars captain Jamie Benn said. "We know how St. Louis played last time. They're a good team and we need to go right after them. Two big points on the line."
Stars interim coach Rick Bowness liked how his team stood in against the Bruins in a physical game.
"We battled very hard," Bowness said. "Clearly, we can't give up four goals, and the two tap-ins bothered me a lot. But I thought we did a lot of good things. That's the best team in the league, and we battled with them for 60 minutes."
The Blues are coming off a 3-2 overtime victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday night at Enterprise Center, where they are 22-6-5 this season.
St. Louis outshot the Islanders 32-17 and controlled the puck for much of the game, but the Blues had to rally from a 2-0 deficit to get the two points.
"We don't get too frustrated any more about that kind of stuff," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "We play a lot of games where we have the puck a lot and we get lots of shots and sometimes we just don't score. We stick with it. We're getting better at it. We did a good job tonight and ended up getting a late goal."
One point of emphasis for the Blues on Saturday will be penalty killing. They allowed four power-play goals in their last two games while plunging to 19th in the NHL in penalty-killing efficiency.
"We've got to be better," Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo said. "We've got to find a way to get that penalty kill back up where we want it. Because in the playoffs it'll be crucial."
Berube also wants the Blues to start taking fewer penalties.
"It's things like that that we keep trying to improve and get better at so when we go to the playoffs we're dialed right in and we're firing on all cylinders," Berube said.
The Blues are 3-0-1 against the Stars this season. Goaltenders Jordan Binnington (1-0-1, 2.45 goals-against average, .921 save percentage) and Jake Allen (2-0, 1.00, .961) both have played well in the season series.
The Stars also have used both of their goalies in the series. Ben Bishop (0-3-0, 3.83, .890) has struggled against his former team. Anton Khudobin earned a 3-2 overtime victory against the Blues by stopping 23 of 25 shots.
--Field Level Media