The St. Louis Blues take aim at an eighth victory in 10 games on Thursday night as they try to enhance their playoff chances at the expense of the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Blues snapped a two-game slide with Tuesday's 2-1 shootout victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Andy McDonald and Alex Steen both scored in the deciding frame, while Brian Elliott stopped both skaters he faced after making 21 saves through overtime.
Jay Bouwmeester scored his first goal for the Blues since being acquired from the Calgary Flames and it was a game-tying tally with 9:10 left in regulation.
Tuesday's game marked the sixth straight time that St. Louis has been held to two goals or fewer, but it has still managed to win seven of its past nine. That span includes three straight shutouts by Elliott from April 7-11 and the Blues scored only four goals in that time.
"We've been having trouble scoring goals and have been playing some tight games," noted Bouwmeester after Tuesday's win. "It always feels good to score and contribute. We just need to find a way to win games right now and tonight was a good effort against a real good team."
Tuesday's victory was also the 600th in the coaching career of Ken Hitchcock, who became the 11th coach in NHL history to reach the milestone.
"It's basically because I'm old," Hitchcock said. "If you last long and you're old, this is what you get."
What the Blues also got were two big points that have them seventh overall in the Western Conference and one point ahead of the eighth-seeded Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Blues have won the first two of three meetings with the Coyotes this season, including a 3-0 home victory on March 14. Jake Allen, the current backup to Elliott due to Jaroslav Halak's groin injury, made 28 saves and Chris Stewart scored twice.
St. Louis has won five of its past six versus Phoenix overall and six of the last nine at home in the series.
Mike Smith gave up three goals on 30 shots in the loss to the Blues and was unable to play in the Coyotes' most recent game due to a lower body injury suffered in practice on Sunday. Smith is questionable for tonight.
With Smith out, Jason LaBarbera gave up four goals on 41 shots faced in Monday's 4-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks. LaBarbera was perfect through the first period, but was tagged three times during a 7:11 span in the middle frame.
The defeat was the Coyotes' second straight and third in fourth games. They have been shut out twice in that time and seven times in total this season.
"We'll work on it," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said of his team's struggles. "There will be no quit in this team, I can guarantee that."
While there may be no quit, time is certainly not on the club's side. Phoenix is six points behind the Blue Jackets with six games to play.
The Coyotes will play three straight and four of those games on the road, where they are 5-9-6 this season.