The Dallas Stars’ position in the Western Conference playoff race may be tenuous, but the situation on their bench in their last game turned perilous.
Roughly 24 hours after Rich Peverley collapsed on the bench in a frightening scene, the Stars will try to turn their focus to the ice Tuesday night when they visit the NHL-leading St. Louis Blues.
Dallas (31-23-10) has 72 points, one more than Phoenix for the final playoff position in the West.
The Stars, though, have more on their minds after Peverley was rushed to a hospital following a cardiac event that caused him to collapse in the first period of Monday’s meeting with Columbus.
Peverley was treated and was conscious while being rushed to a hospital. He’s just six months removed from undergoing a procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat.
"When he dropped, it was red alert," coach Lindy Ruff said after the game was postponed with Dallas trailing 1-0 with 13:37 left in the first period. "Don’t worry about the game. It was about getting the doctors. The players don’t want to play, and I don’t want to coach the team right now.
"I was scared."
While the consternation from the event was enough for the Stars to tell the Blue Jackets that they couldn’t continue, Peverley seems headed for a recovery. General manager Jim Nill said Peverley was in stable condition, and has been communicating with teammates and friends since he was hospitalized.
”We’re going to regroup,” center Jamie Benn said. ”I guess we’ll be playing for Rich tonight.”
The episode, however, had a profound effect on teammate Alex Chiasson, who was being treated after becoming despondent about Peverley’s plight and didn’t join the team for the trip to St. Louis.
”He was shaken by the whole event,” Ruff said after the Stars’ Tuesday morning skate. ”He wasn’t doing very well so we thought best to get him under some care.”
Ruff and the Stars will try to regroup and focus on the red-hot Blues (44-14-6). Dallas has lost seven of the past eight meetings overall and has been outscored 14-5 during a four-game skid in St. Louis.
The Stars allowed five unanswered goals in a 6-1 loss Nov. 23 in their latest visit.
Leading scorer Tyler Seguin has been held to one point in four career meetings with the Blues, but has four goals and four assists in the past two games overall.
After making eight saves before Monday’s game was abandoned, Tim Thomas is likely to get his first official start for the Stars. He’s expected to get the bulk of the playing time after Kari Lehtonen suffered a concussion, when he was hit in the head by a charging Erik Haula in the third period of Saturday’s 4-3 win over Minnesota.
Thomas stopped all six shots in relief, making his team debut after being acquired from Florida in exchange for backup goaltender Dan Ellis before Wednesday’s trade deadline.
The two-time Vezina Trophy winner is 1-2-2 with a 3.33 goals-against average against St. Louis.
The Blues seek a sixth consecutive win after T.J. Oshie and Alexander Steen scored the only goals of the shootout in Sunday’s 3-2 win at Minnesota.
"When you have guys like (Oshie) and (Steen) in the shootout, you make a couple of saves, you can win a game," goalie Brian Elliott told the team’s official website. "It’s just one of those games where you try not to let the nerves get to you. You just want to get out there, feel the puck and move on from there."
Ryan Miller is likely to be back in net Tuesday looking to continue his stellar start with the Blues. He’s 4-0-0 with a 1.50 GAA in four games since being acquired from Buffalo earlier this month. Miller is 4-1-0 with a 2.73 GAA against Dallas, losing the most recent matchup Oct. 28.
Oshie has 15 points in 15 career meetings with the Stars, scoring a goal in each of the last three at home.
Peverley will be on the minds of both teams.
”We were watching it on TV,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of the incident. ”The silence was just deafening.”