NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Wednesday, March 19th
(All times Eastern)
St. Louis Blues (47-14-7) at Chicago Blackhawks (39-15-15), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The red-hot St. Louis Blues will try to remain
undefeated against the defending Stanley Cup champions this season when they
visit the Chicago Blackhawks for Wednesday's Central Division showdown at
With an 8-0-1 record in March, the Blues have vaulted to the top of the NHL
standings. A recent victory over the Winnipeg Jets made St. Louis the first
team to reach the 100-point mark this season.
St. Louis currently sits first in the league with 101 points -- two more than
the Boston Bruins. The Blues also are four points ahead of both Anaheim and
San Jose in the West standings and hold an eight-point lead over both Chicago
and Colorado for first place in the Central.
The Blackhawks are currently third in the Central and nine points behind St.
Louis. Chicago has a chance to make up some ground in the division race
tonight, but St. Louis has gotten the better of the reigning champs so far in
2013-14. The Blues also have earned points in 22 consecutive divisional games
(20-0-2), extending a franchise record.
The Blues are 3-0 against Chicago this season and have claimed four straight
overall in the series. However, each of the last three encounters between the
clubs have been decided by just one goal. That includes a 6-5 shootout victory
by the Blues in the last meeting on Dec. 28 in St. Louis.
Chicago failed to hold a pair of two-goal leads in that meeting in late
December and the Blues forced the game beyond regulation by scoring twice
during a 1:17 span late in the third period.
Still, these clubs have split the last 10 meetings overall and St. Louis has
lost 10 of 13 in Chicago despite winning the last two matchups in the Windy
The Blues won their third straight game Monday night against visiting
Winnipeg. David Backes scored twice, including the game-winner with 6:51 left
in the third period, as St. Louis secured a 3-1 win over the Jets at Scottrade
Backes broke a 1-1 tie with a power-play goal at 13:09 of the third before
being credited with an empty-netter at 18:49. Winnipeg's Jacob Trouba hauled
Backes down from behind with only an empty net in front of him, resulting in a
Brenden Morrow scored St. Louis' other goal, while Ryan Miller made 16 saves
to improve to 7-0-1 since being acquired on Feb. 28 by the Blues.
Miller will get another chance to improve on his brilliant start with the
Blues tonight. The former Buffalo Sabres netminder is 2-2-0 with a 2.08 goals
against average in four career games against Chicago.
St. Louis is kicking off a four-game road trip on Wednesday and is 22-9-3 as
the visiting team this season. T.J. Oshie will be back for the Blues in the
opener of the swing after missing Monday's test to spend time with his wife
and the couple's newborn daughter.
The Blackhawks have lost three of their last four games, but were able to pick
up a point in Tuesday's 3-2 overtime loss in Philadelphia.
Chicago grabbed an early 2-0 lead by scoring twice in the first 3:51 of the
game, but the Blackhawks wouldn't find the net again. After Scott Hartnell
scored twice in the first period to even the game, Philadelphia captain Claude
Giroux scored the winning goal with just 4.2 seconds left in OT to give the
Flyers the victory.
With time winding down in the extra session, Giroux flew down the right wing
into the zone and from the circle he snapped a laser on net, using Duncan
Keith as a screen, and it went in and out of the left corner for the win.
Andrew Shaw and Keith had the goals for Chicago. Antti Raanta gave up all
three goals on 37 shots.
"I think we did a lot of good things tonight. But, definitely really
frustrating the way we gave that point up," said Keith.
Blackhawks No. 1 netminder Corey Crawford expects to get the start tonight. He
is 9-2-3 with a 2.45 GAA in 14 career games against the Blues.
Chicago is beginning a four-game homestand on Wednesday and also will host
Carolina, Nashville and Dallas during the stay at United Center. The
Blackhawks are 21-6-7 as the home club this season.
03/19 10:44:11 ET