Dallas Stars

Dallas Stars braced for brunt of St. Louis Blues’ physical nature

St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, center top, will have David Backes (42), Steve Ott (9) and Scottie Upshall (10) ready for a bruising battle on Sunday in Dallas after watching Friday’s loss.
St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, center top, will have David Backes (42), Steve Ott (9) and Scottie Upshall (10) ready for a bruising battle on Sunday in Dallas after watching Friday’s loss. AP

If the Dallas Stars thought the St. Louis Blues got in more than their fair share of hits in the opener of their Western Conference semifinals series, they expect the physicality to reach a whole new level in Game 2.

The best-of-seven series resumes at 2 p.m. Sunday at American Airlines Center.

Dallas won the opener 2-1 at home Friday night on rookie center Radek Faksa’s goal with 4:44 to play.

But Stars coach Lindy Ruff is aware that this is a backs-against-the-wall situation for Blues coach Ken Hitchcock.

This is like a Game 7. They don’t want to go down 2-0. They want to make their statement and I have to have our team ready for that.

Stars coach Lindy Ruff

“This series is going to start to heat up right now because they’re going into a Game 2 where I know what, as a coach, he’s thinking over there,” Ruff said of Hitchcock. “This is like a Game 7.

“They don’t want to go down 2-0. They want to make their statement, and I have to have our team ready for that.”

Ruff knows the Blues on Monday finished a grueling seven-game series against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. The Blues led that series 3-1.

“I think they will play better,” Stars forward Ales Hemsky said of Game 2. “Maybe they were a little tired from the other series.

“They have a good team to regroup and give us the best that they have, so we have to be ready.”

Stars forward Patrick Eaves is questionable for Game 2 after being hit in the leg by a puck Friday. Valeri Nichushkin is expected back in the lineup.

I think it was the start that we were looking for. We played well, but that’s over now ...

Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen, on the Game 1 victory

Meanwhile, Kari Lehtonen, the Stars’ goaltender who warded off several attacks near the net from in the series opener, harped on the importance of winning the first game.

“Well, I think it was big, especially playing at home,” Lehtonen said. “I think it was equally important to play a solid game, and we were able to do both, so that was good.

“I think it was the start that we were looking for. We played well, but that’s over now, and we need to focus on playing well tomorrow and keep this thing going.”

Dwain Price: 817-390-7760, @dwainprice

Stars vs. Blues

2 p.m. Sunday, American Airlines Center

TV: KXAS/5

Radio: KTCK/1310 AM and 96.7 FM

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