NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, January 9th
(All times Eastern)
St. Louis Blues (30-7-5) at Calgary Flames (15-22-6), 9 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Looking to grab a share of the Central Division's top
spot, the St. Louis Blues aim to extend their road point streak on Thursday
night as they visit the Calgary Flames.
The Blues have been on an impressive roll as of late, going 8-0-1 in their
last nine games overall and 11-1-2 since a loss to Anaheim on Dec. 7. St.
Louis notched a road victory in Winnipeg three days later to start a current
6-0-2 surge as the visiting club.
That is the longest point streak on the road for the Blues since a club-record
11-game run (10-0-1) from Jan. 21, 1999-March 4, 2000.
St. Louis kicked off a three-game trip on Tuesday night with a season-high
sixth straight victory, besting the Edmonton Oilers 5-2. The Blues scored
three times in the second period, with David Backes' power-play goal in the
frame the difference.
Chris Stewart, Maxim Lapierre, Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrik Berglund also
scored for the Blues, while Brian Elliott needed to make only 16 saves to win
his seventh straight decision.
"They played us pretty hard for the first half of the game before we got a
power-play goal that allowed us to lock down the hatches after that," said
Backes of his 17th tally of the season that came with 9:04 to play in the
Tuesday's win marked the quickest the Blues have ever reached the 30-win
plateau in franchise history as they did so in their 42nd game of 2013-14.
They will next try to win seven straight for the first time since Oct. 22-Nov.
A win would also move St. Louis into a tie with the idle Chicago Blackhawks
atop the Central Division.
The Blues, though, could be without forward T.J. Oshie after he had to be
helped off the ice late in Tuesday's win following a knee-on-knee hit with the
Oilers' Taylor Hall. Oshie, who has 29 assists and 37 points in 42 games this
season, is day-to-day.
St. Louis will close out its road trip in Vancouver tomorrow night and Elliott
is expected to start that contest. That means that Jaroslav Halak will make
his first start tonight since allowing three goals on 13 shots through just 20
minutes of action on Dec. 28 versus Chicago.
Halak, who also has recently been battling illness, is 3-5-1 with a 2.66 goals
against average in nine career starts versus the Flames. He faced them
recently on Dec. 23 in Calgary, making 26 saves in a 4-3 shootout loss.
The Blues have still won six of their last nine versus the Flames, but have
lost five of its past seven in Calgary.
The Flames' offensive struggles continued on Tuesday with a 6-0 road setback
to the Phoenix Coyotes. Thomas Greiss stopped all 27 Calgary shots fired his
It marked the fourth time in six games and fifth in the past 10 that the
Flames have been shut out. Tuesday's loss came one night after Calgary notched
a 4-3 win at Colorado.
"They get the two breaks and then Phoenix just sat back and waited," Calgary
coach Bob Harley said. "If you look at offense, they have more weapons that we
do. Their top three lines can all score."
Reto Berra was victimized for all six goals on 30 shots for the Flames, who
have lost nine of their last 11.
Calgary will play its next two at home, where it has lost four straight and
has been outscored 10-1 in that span.
Berra has been in net for both of the Flames' previous games against the Blues
this season, including a 3-2 loss in St. Louis back on Nov. 7. He made 32
saves in the shootout win in late December.
It is unknown if Berra or Karri Ramo will start tonight. Ramo has faced the
Blues just once before and that came back on March 6, 2009 while with Tampa
Bay. He made 32 saves in an overtime setback.
01/09 10:45:42 ET