NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, April 10th
(All times Eastern)
St. Louis Blues (52-20-7) at Minnesota Wild (42-26-12), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The St. Louis Blues will try to snap their longest
losing streak of the season and keep their chances at the top seed in the
Western Conference alive on Thursday night when they visit the playoff-bound
The Blues have lost three in a row for the first time this season, putting
them a point back of the Anaheim Ducks for the most in the conference. St.
Louis does have a game in hand over idle Anaheim.
However, the Blues' current skid also has them just two points ahead of the
Colorado Avalanche for first place in the Central Division with three games to
play for both teams. The Avs are in action on Thursday as well as they visit
the Vancouver Canucks.
St. Louis' offensive funk continued with Tuesday's 4-1 setback to the
Washington Capitals. It marked the sixth straight game that the Blues were
held to a pair of goals or fewer.
"The last few we haven't been scoring but we've had guys scoring all year,"
said Blues forward Alexander Steen, who returned from a three-game absence
caused by an upper-body injury and leads the club with 33 goals.
While Steen doesn't sound too worried, the Blues will be without another key
offensive contributor in David Backes, who suffered a lower-body injury versus
the Capitals. He traveled with the club to Minnesota, but won't play tonight
and his status for Friday's road contest with the Dallas Stars is unknown.
Backes is second on the Blues with 27 goals and third in points with 57.
Ryan Miller gave up four goals on 22 shots versus the Capitals and will try to
help St. Louis avoid posting its longest losing streak since a five-game slide
from Feb. 1-11 of last year. Miller is 4-2-0 with a 2.08 goals against average
and one shutout in six previous meetings with the Wild.
Minnesota would probably like to avoid a first-round playoff matchup with St.
Louis, though that is who the Wild would play if the season ended today. The
Wild are locked into the first of two wild card spots after beating the Boston
Bruins 4-3 in a shootout on Tuesday.
The Wild are 5-0-1 in their last six, with their last regulation setback
coming on March 27 with a 5-1 defeat in St. Louis. T.J. Oshie highlighted the
Blues' victory with his first career hat trick, while Miller stopped 27-of-28
The Blues have won all four of their previous meetings with the Wild this
season and nine straight overall. The Wild have not won in this series since a
home victory on Nov. 19, 2011, dropping four straight as the host since.
Minnesota, though, could make a statement tonight with a victory and is coming
off a hard-fought win over the NHL-leading Bruins. Defenseman Ryan Suter
netted a game-tying goal with 1:05 remaining in regulation, while Mikko Koivu
had the lone shootout tally.
Koivu matched an NHL record with his 15th game-winning shootout tally and also
had a pair of assists on regulation. Jason Pominville tallied twice and Ilya
Bryzgalov posted 21 saves.
"We played ourselves into the playoffs the way that you want to. It says a lot
about the guys in here, and hopefully we can keep this thing going here,"
Bryzgalov, who was coming off back-to-back shutouts, improved to 7-0-3 with a
1.78 goals against average and .923 save percentage since being acquired from
the Edmonton Oilers. He is 6-11-2 with a 3.14 GAA and two shutouts lifetime
versus the Blues.
Miller is 10-5-1 with a 2.27 GAA and .910 save percentage in 16 starts since
the Blues acquired him from the Buffalo Sabres.
04/10 10:51:45 ET