The Blues have points in six straight games, while the Dallas Stars dropped their Saturday game against the Colorado Avalanche 2-1 at home. St. Louis' win was special in that it was their first shootout victory of the season; Dallas' loss was more frustrating than losses usually are, as they're trying to claw their way into a playoff spot. Losing games at home to teams near you in the standings is not a way to climb up, especially not in a one goal game. You have to win those, and that's why the Blues could very well be in a three way tie for first in the NHL. They haven't lost a game in regulation so far in January, and are continuing a five game home stand -- which will be difficult for the Stars, considering that the Blues have the best home record in the league.
The Blues're still short Alex Steen for tonight, and Kris Russell, Kent Huskins, and Andy McDonald's returns are far off. The difference here is that the Blues've had the time to figure out how to work around their losses, but the Stars are a few men down that they didn't envision. Jamie Benn is out thanks to an emergency appendectomy, and Mike Ribeiro is still out with a bum MCL. They still have some firepower with Loui Eriksson and Michael Ryder, but whatever firepower there is isn't working on the power play, which is 27th in the league. Obviously, St. Louis' isn't much higher (24th), but when you consider how far in the basement it was, it should give you a sign to its recent productivity.
Tonight's game will be an early one, broadcast on the newly-christened NBC Sports Network (same spot on your dial as Versus - same broadcast team, too). Jaroslav Halak and Kari Lehtonen'll be squaring off together. Lehtonen's had much more success against the Blues than Halak has had against the Stars; the Blues' 5-3 win earlier this season was with the Stars' two backup goaltenders in net. Lehtonen hasn't faced this incarnation of the Blues this season, though - tonight should be tougher than he's used to.
First in the league versus making the playoffs -- both are pretty good carrots to dangle over teams' faces, but it looks like the Blues' are the team who're actually going for theirs.