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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, April 16th (All times Eastern)
Vancouver Canucks (24-12-6) at St. Louis Blues (23-16-2), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The St. Louis Blues try to avoid a third straight loss on Tuesday evening when they continue their four-game homestand against the Northwest Division-leading Vancouver Canucks.
The Blues have dropped back-to-back games after opening the month of April by winning a season-high six in a row. The final three games of that winning streak were shutouts by Brian Elliott, and after backup Jake Allen dropped a 4-1 decision in Columbus last Friday, Elliott yielded two goals on 26 shots faced in a 2-0 setback to the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.
Elliott stopped all 10 shots he faced in the first period, but finally saw his shutout streak end at 214 minutes when he was beaten 4:31 into the middle frame. The 28-year-old holds the franchise record with a 241:33 shutout streak set last season.
The Blues went 0-for-3 on the power play and have scored just five goals over their last five games. They fell to 9-8-1 as the hosting club this season and six of their final seven games will be in St. Louis.
The Blues hope that will help them in their quest for a playoff spot. They currently sit seventh overall in the Western Conference with 48 points, one back of the Minnesota Wild but just one point ahead of the Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets, who are tied for the eighth spot.
St. Louis, though, has a game in hand over Detroit and has played two fewer games than Columbus. Both the Red Wings and Blue Jackets are idle tonight, while the Wild are visiting the Edmonton Oilers.
"I think it's a fine line the whole season at this time. I think everybody's on the fine line," said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, who remained stuck on 599 career wins. "You need something positive to happen, somebody to step up and get us to the next level.
"We're playing pretty well 5-on-5, our penalty killing really gives us a chance every night, but whether it's top players scoring or whether it's a little more contribution from the power play, whatever, that's the edge. We have to find that edge."
The Canucks seem to have found that as of late as they have won five of their last six. That run has put Vancouver five points ahead of Minnesota for the top spot in the Northwest standings with six games to play for both clubs.
The Canucks also played spoiler on Monday, knocking Nashville out of the playoff race with a 5-2 win over the Predators.
Jason Garrison scored the game-winner on the power play late in the second period, while Derek Roy had his first goal since being acquired from the Buffalo Sabres on April 2 and also added an assist. Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and Jannik Hansen each posted two helpers in the win.
"We were good in the first, and then for whatever reason, our play slipped in the second until Henrik's line went out there and had a real strong shift," Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. "That enabled us to go on the power play and score a goal."
Roberto Luongo posted 36 saves to backstop the victory, while Ryan Kesler scored twice. The forward has missed a large chunk of the season due to a pair of injuries, but has three goals and three assists in four games since missing 19 straight with a broken foot.
The Canucks have won three of their past four versus the Blues and snapped a two-game slide in St. Louis with an overtime victory there on Jan. 12 of last year.
04/16 10:32:54 ET