NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, April 6th (All times Eastern)
St. Louis Blues (52-18-7) at Chicago Blackhawks (44-19-15), 12:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The St. Louis Blues hope to rebound from a lopsided loss when they visit the rival Chicago Blackhawks for Sunday's battle at United Center.
The Blues lead the Central Division with 111 points, but were handed a 4-0 home setback by second-place Colorado on Saturday. The win pulled the Avalanche within five points of St. Louis for the Central lead with five games remaining for both clubs. Colorado is in action Sunday against the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Blackhawks, meanwhile, are third in the division and eight points behind St. Louis with four games remaining on their regular-season schedule. All three teams in the Central title race have already clinched playoff berths.
St. Louis has won three of four meetings against the Blackhawks this season, but Chicago did notch a 4-0 win when the clubs met at the United Center on March 19. The victory halted Chicago's four-game slide against the Blues and improved the Blackhawks' record in the season series to 1-1-2.
The Blues have lost nine of their last 11 games in Chicago.
St. Louis allowed all four goals to Colorado on Saturday in the second period and Semyon Varlamov made 31 saves to help the Avalanche cruise to their 50th win of the season.
Ryan Miller allowed four goals on 29 shots for St. Louis, which had outscored the Avalanche 13-5 in winning the season's first three meetings.
The Central Division-leading Blues fell two points back of Boston in the race for the Presidents' Trophy. The Bruins topped Philadelphia earlier Saturday. The Blues are three points ahead of Anaheim for the Western Conference lead.
"I think the first period we may feel pretty good about our game. The second period they stepped it up a notch and we didn't have a very good response," Blues captain David Backes said.
The Blackhawks are coming off consecutive victories and will try for their first three-game winning streak in nearly four months when they take the ice today in the Windy City. The defending Stanley Cup champions haven't record three straight wins since Dec. 8-11.
After posting a 3-2 shootout win against visiting Minnesota on Thursday, Chicago pulled out a 4-3 regulation victory the following night in Columbus. The score was tied 3-3 after 40 minutes and the game appeared to be headed to overtime until Ben Smith scored with 3.9 seconds remaining in the third period to deliver the win for the Blackhawks.
A point shot by Duncan Keith went off Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky's glove and triggered a goal-mouth scramble, with Smith pushing the rebound into the open net.
"Somehow that puck found its way in," Smith said.
Keith had three assists and Antti Raanta made 24 saves for the Blackhawks.
Corey Crawford expects to get the start in net on Saturday. He is 10-2-3 with a 2.28 goals against average and .915 save percentage in 15 career games against the Blues. Brian Elliott will get the call for St. Louis and is 4-4-1 with a 2.21 GAA in 10 career games against Chicago.
Chicago is opening a two-game homestand on Sunday and is 25-7-7 as the host this season. After welcoming Montreal on Wednesday, the Blackhawks will end the regular season with road games at Washington and Nashville.
The Blues are 24-11-3 away from home and have won their last two road games.
04/06 11:07:58 ET