Blues, Stars 'excited' for winner-take-all Game 7
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It's a great debate before any Game 7: Which team has the advantage? Does it even matter?
As the St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars prepare for Tuesday's winner-take-all deciding game of their Stanley Cup playoff second-round series, the easy theory would be the Blues have the upper hand.
It's the Blues who should have all the momentum, having taken Sunday's Game 6 by a 4-1 count. It's the Blues who will play host for the series clincher, with their rabid fans ready to back them with a berth in the Western Conference final on the line.
However, the Blues have only won two of six home games so far this postseason -- a stunning lack of home-ice success for a team that's one win away from reaching the Western Conference final.
"For me, it's even," Blues interim head coach Craig Berube said after Sunday's season-saving performance. "We're going into a Game 7. We've got to forget about this game, it's over with and we've got to prepare for a tough Game 7. That's the bottom line."
Curiously, the last time either squad played a Game 7 was against each other. St. Louis defeated Dallas 6-1 in the 2016 second round -- not that a game three years ago matters today.
"It's exciting," Stars captain Jamie Benn told NHL.com. "What a great opportunity in front of us, and for both teams, to go out there and battle it out for one game and winner take all."
Vezina Trophy finalist Ben Bishop left Sunday's game shortly after he was drilled in the collar bone by a booming slap shot from Colton Parayko, a play in which the Blues scored while Bishop was writhing on the ice in pain, but on Monday Dallas coach Jim Montgomery said Bishop will play the biggest game of the season.
"He's fine. We just wanted to put (Anton Khudobin) in. He wasn't hurt. That's why we switched," Montgomery said.
Regardless of any off-ice events, the setting is set for a finale to a series that's delivered everything expected from the Blues and Stars -- intense, low-scoring games between two closely matched teams. So, it should be no surprise a seventh and deciding game is needed.
"It's a Game 7, we knew it was going to be a tight series," Stars forward Mats Zuccarello said. "If you want to go far in the playoffs, you usually have to go through some Game 7s. So we come back to work (Monday) and be excited for our opportunity to play in a Game 7."
If experience comes into play, the Blues did stave off elimination and have that positive experience to draw up.
"As down as a lot of people were after (losing Game 5), we can't get too high now. That's what it's all about." Blues forward David Perron said. "It's another exciting challenge next game. We're excited and we can't wait to get rested up and get ready to go to the morning skate and get ready to go for that next game."
--Field Level Media
Updated May 6, 2019