Preview: Columbus at St. Louis
When: 8:00 PM ET, Saturday, November 28, 2015
Where: Scottrade Center, St. Louis, Missouri
The St. Louis Blues were one of six NHL teams which did not play Friday after the league took Thanksgiving off and hope to use the extra rest to their advantage when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday. St. Louis has alternated wins and losses over its last six games (3-1-2) while going 3-3-2 in its last eight, prompting coach Ken Hitchcock to tell reporters after Wednesday’s 4-3 overtime loss to Pittsburgh: “We’ve got too much slowness in our game.”
The Blues must also figure out how to solve the rejuvenated Blue Jackets, who extended their winning streak over St. Louis to three with a 3-1 victory Nov. 17 behind a pair of goals by Brandon Saad. After rallying for a 2-1 win over Buffalo on Monday, the Blues erased a pair of deficits against Pittsburgh before falling. “We have to find a way to get up on teams early and bury them,” St. Louis defenseman Alex Pietrangelo told reporters. Columbus defeated the Penguins 2-1 on Cam Atkinson’s overtime goal Friday and is 10-7-0 since John Tortorella took the coaching reins from Todd Richards following the Blue Jackets’ 0-7-0 start.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FSN Ohio (Columbus), FSN Midwest (St. Louis)
ABOUT THE BLUE JACKETS (10-14-0): Atkinson took a feed from Brandon Dubinsky and beat Marc-Andre Fleury 2:42 into the extra period for his second goal in three games, prompting Tortorella to tell reporters: “I thought we were good right on through. I thought it was a game we deserved to win.” Ryan Johansen (team bests of 12 assists and 17 points) scored for the third time in four games Friday while Dubinsky recorded a point in his second game since missing six because of an elbow injury. Columbus played a franchise-record 23 straight regulation games to start the season – the longest since the New York Islanders went 27 in 1998-99.
ABOUT THE BLUES (14-6-3): Vladimir Tarasenko leads the team in goals (13) and points (22) but hasn’t recorded a point in the last two games after scoring in two consecutive contests. Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk recorded an assist Wednesday to extend his point streak to seven games (two goals, seven assists) while Paul Stastny had a goal and an assist Wednesday in his second game back since missing 12 because of a foot injury. Jake Allen (10-4-2, 2.10 goals against average, .928 save percentage) makes his fifth consecutive start in goal after allowing four goals twice during the past four – both overtime losses.
1. St. Louis LW Alexander Steen (eight goals) hasn’t scored in nine games, but raised his team-high assist total to 11 with two Wednesday.
2. Columbus was the only NHL team not to have played past regulation time prior to Friday.
3. The Blues have killed 20-of-22 penalties in its last six games while the Blue Jackets are 0-for-17 on the power play in their past six contests.
PREDICTION: Blues 3, Blue Jackets 2