NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, January 31st (All times Eastern)
St. Louis Blues (36-11-5) at Carolina Hurricanes (24-20-9), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The St. Louis Blues will try to close January on a four- game winning streak when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes for Friday's battle at PNC Arena.
The Blues are riding a three-game winning streak that comes directly on the heels of an embarrassing 7-1 loss in New Jersey on Jan. 21. All told, St. Louis, which is two points behind Chicago for first place in the Central Division, is 9-4-0 this month and 14-4-1 over its past 19 games.
St. Louis exacted revenge against the Devils in its most recent trip to the ice, posting a 3-0 win over a visiting New Jersey club on Tuesday, one week after getting routed in the Garden State.
Alexander Steen scored his 27th goal of the season and Jaroslav Halak stopped 23 shots for his fourth shutout of the campaign to help the Blues subdue the Devils at Scottrade Center.
Brenden Morrow and Maxim Lapierre registered a goal apiece for St. Louis.
After killing off an early New Jersey power play, St. Louis cracked the scoreboard 3:25 into the opening frame as Steen finished off a 3-on-2 rush with a wrister from the slot that deflected off a defender before slipping past Devils goaltender Cory Schneider for a 1-0 lead.
"It was a huge kill," Halak said of keeping New Jersey off the board despite the early power play. "It gave us a boost and I was happy we were able to get the first (goal)."
St. Louis has a solid 17-6-3 record as the visiting team this season and has won two straight and seven of its past nine road games.
The Hurricanes, meanwhile, will try to get back on track tonight after having a four-game winning streak snapped Tuesday in Montreal. Carolina lost 3-0 to the Canadiens, as Carey Price made 36 saves to shut out the visiting 'Canes.
Anton Khudobin stopped 27-of-30 shots for the Hurricanes, who fell behind 1-0 just over six minutes into the game when Brandon Prust scored the eventual game-winner.
"Giving up the first goal was tough," Hurricanes forward Eric Staal said. "We know they've been struggling of late. We didn't want to give them any life."
Carolina hopes to start a new winning streak on Friday when it kicks off a four-game homestand. The Hurricanes are 13-10-5 as the host this season and have won two straight and three of their past four tests at PNC Arena.
St. Louis posted a 4-2 home win over the Hurricanes on Nov. 16 and has won three of the past five meetings in this series. However, Carolina has claimed four of the past five encounters in Raleigh.
Khudobin, who has never faced the Blues, expects to get a sixth straight start in net for the Hurricanes tonight, although regular No. 1 netminder Cam Ward is nearing a return from a lower-body injury.
Ward was activated off injured reserve on Thursday and sent to the club's American Hockey League affiliate in Charlotte for conditioning. He has missed the team's last 13 games and hasn't played since Dec. 31 against Montreal. He is scheduled to see action for the Charlotte Checkers on Friday.
Halak will get the start for St. Louis and the Czech netminder is 1-2-1 with a 2.28 goals against average in five career outings against the Hurricanes.
01/31 10:45:05 ET