Blues visit Ducks hoping to extend division lead

With a playoff spot already clinched, the St. Louis Blues will try to move closer to their first division title in 12 years, as they visit the Anaheim Ducks tonight at the Honda Center.

The Blues punched their ticket to the postseason with Saturday's 3-1 victory in Tampa, a win that helped St. Louis avoid its first three-game losing streak since late December.

The victory also gave St. Louis an NHL-high 100 points and the Blues enter tonight with an eight-point lead over Nashville and Detroit for first place in the Central Division with nine games left for all three teams. The Red Wings visit the New York Rangers tonight, while the Predators are idle after losing a home test to Edmonton on Tuesday.

The Blues last claimed the Central title in the spring of 2000, which was the year before the club's last 100-point season. St. Louis hasn't made the playoffs since 2009, when it was swept in the opening round by Vancouver.

St. Louis is 2-1-1 so far on a seven-game road trip, improving its mediocre away record this season to 17-15-4.

Jaroslav Halak made 22 saves to help the Blues earn the victory over the Lightning, while Patrik Berglund, David Perron and Jaden Schwartz recorded goals for St. Louis. Schwartz, the 14th overall pick of the 2010 Entry Draft, was playing in his first NHL game.

"We got a power-play goal, we got a [short-handed goal] and we got a 5-on-5 goal and when you do that on the road, that's good stuff," Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock said.

T.J. Oshie added two assists as the Blues, who will visit Los Angeles and Phoenix before returning home to the Gateway City.

On the injury front for St. Louis, forwards Jason Arnott (body soreness) and David Backes (bruised left foot) are questionable for tonight.

The Ducks have been more or less relegated to a spoiler role as they enter tonight 11 points out of a playoff spot with just eight games left on their schedule. That could explain why Anaheim has won just two of its last seven contests (2-4-1), but the Ducks are coming off a win over the playoff-hopeful San Jose Sharks.

Bobby Ryan and Nick Bonino helped the visiting Ducks deny San Jose an opportunity to move back into a playoff position on Monday, posting a 5-3 victory at the Shark Tank.

Ryan had a goal and two assists for the Ducks, while Bonino, a former San Jose draft pick, recorded three assists.

"Obviously it's a career high for me, never had three points [in a game] before. It feels good," Bonino said.

Tonight marks the start of a three-game homestand for the Ducks, who are 19-16-2 in Orange County this season.

St. Louis won two straight at home over the Ducks after losing the season series' opener in Anaheim on Oct. 16. The Blues have taken five of eight from Anaheim overall, but the Ducks have claimed four in a row and eight of the last nine matchups at the Honda Center.