DALLAS — Home ice belongs to the Dallas Stars for Game 7 of their second-round playoff series against the St. Louis Blues.
The advantage? Well, the visiting team has dominated (4-2) so far.
“I have the benefit of the match at home,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “I don’t know if that’s going to make any difference in the game, though.”
Dallas hosts Game 7 on Wednesday night (8 p.m. EDT, NBCSN) after avoiding elimination with a 3-2 win at St. Louis on Monday. The Stars led 3-0 in the first period and held on for the third consecutive victory in the series by the visiting team – and fourth overall.
“We’ve been able to put some good road games together, some simple road games together,” Blues right wing Troy Brouwer said.
The Blues, who finished only two points behind Dallas in the regular-season standings for the Western Conference’s top seed, are 4-2 on the road this postseason and have already played a seven-game series. St. Louis won its first-round clincher at home, when Brouwer scored the Game 7 winner against defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago.
“We obviously know the stage,” Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s going to be a little different now that we’re on the road, but I think overall, we know what the pressure is, we know what it’s going to be.”
Brouwer is playing in his NHL-record eighth consecutive playoff series to go seven games. He also had Games 7s with Washington and Chicago the previous five seasons.
“Same mindset we had last series, going to take one more win to finish the series and it’s what we want to do,” Brouwer said.
The Blues won 4-1 in Game 5 at Dallas to go home with a chance to clinch the series. But now they need a third win this month at the American Airlines Center, which hadn’t even opened the last time the Stars hosted a Game 7 – on May 27, 2000, when St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock was still coaching the Stars, and they beat Colorado at Reunion Arena in the Western Conference final.
Dallas has played only one seven-game series since, losing at Vancouver in the first round of the 2007 playoffs. That was just weeks before the Stars used their fifth-round pick in the draft to select Jamie Benn, now their captain and with a NHL-high 15 points this postseason.
“I’m sure there’s going to be some nerves for the first couple shifts,” Benn said. “But after that, I think it’ll be fun.”