NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, December 19th (All times Eastern)
Montreal Canadiens (21-12-3) at St. Louis Blues (22-7-4), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The St. Louis Blues were unable to dig themselves out of an early hole in a rare regulation loss at home on Tuesday.
The Blues aim for better luck on Thursday night as they play host to a Montreal Canadiens club that is kicking off a six-game road trip.
Meeting San Jose for the third and final time this regular season, the Blues dropped a 4-2 decision to the visiting Sharks and were swept in the series. Defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk and Jay Bouwmeester had the goals in the losing effort, while Jaroslav Halak made 23 saves.
The Blues fell to 3-1-1 over their last five games and 13-3-2 at home. Two of those regulation setbacks have come to the Sharks.
Playing without forwards David Backes (upper body), Jaden Schwartz (undisclosed) and Vladimir Sobotka (upper body), the Blues saw the Sharks score twice in the first period on Tuesday and grab a 3-0 two minutes into the second period.
"We've got to get better on our starts," said Shattenkirk."We did initially early for a couple minutes and then got away from it. They get a fortunate bounce on the first goal, but from there, we've just got to kind of pick our heads up and know that what we were doing at the time was getting the job done."
The Blues now look to rebound against the Canadiens, who they have beaten in four straight meetings and in nine of the previous 12 encounters. That includes a 3-2 shootout victory in Montreal on Nov. 5.
Halak turned aside a penalty shot by Tomas Plekanec with 48.9 seconds in regulation and then made three saves in the shootout to remain unbeaten against the club that selected him in the ninth round of the 2003 draft.
Halak is 3-0-0 with a 0.97 goals against average and one shutout versus the Canadiens, making 25 saves in November.
Carey Price made 30 saves in taking the loss for the Canadiens, falling to 1-2-2 with a 2.68 GAA in five career meetings with the Blues.
Price made 26 saves in Tuesday's 3-1 victory, giving up a first-period goal and nothing else the rest of the way.
Max Pacioretty then led the offensive comeback, assisting on Andrei Markov's game-tying tally 2:26 into the third period on a power play before scoring his own goal on the man advantage with 6:42 on the clock.
Pacioretty sealed things up with an empty-net goal for the Habs, who had lost three of four coming in and improved to 1-10-1 this season when trailing after two periods.
"Markov leaned into a slap shot and motivated us in the third," Pacioretty said of his team's rally. "It was our best period of late and we used it as a building block."
The Habs could use the momentum as they are 3-5-0 with a tie in their last nine at St. Louis.
12/19 11:52:42 ET