Sports

Struggling Blues host Flames minus Tarasenko

(SportsNetwork.com) - The St. Louis Blues will try to get their season back on track on Thursday night, but won't have the services of leading scorer Vladimir Tarasenko when they take on the Calgary Flames.

Tarasenko leads the Blues with 36 goals and 71 points, but has been ruled out of tonight's contest due to a lower-body injury suffered in Monday's 4-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. St. Louis was already playing that game without forward Alexander Steen, who is second on the club with 62 points.

Both Tarasenko and Steen are listed as day-to-day and Steen hasn't been ruled out for tonight, though it seems unlikely he will be able to play because of his own lower-body ailment.

"You've got (Tarasenko) with 70-plus points, it's never easy to replace that. Obviously Steener is right on the verge of 70, too," defenseman Alex Pietrangelo told the Blues' website. "It's never easy to replace those guys, but given the depth that we have, everybody is going to have to contribute. We're not worried about that. Everybody is going to step up here and fill that role."

That may include forward Ty Rattie, who was recalled from the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League on Wednesday. Rattie leads the club with 41 points, including 21 goals, in 51 games.

St. Louis managed only a goal from Zbynek Michalek in Monday's loss, while Brian Elliott posted 18 saves as his club lost its second in a row in regulation and for the fifth time in six games (1-3-2). The loss also prevented the Blues from locking up a playoff spot.

"Obviously we're having trouble breaking out of our little slump here," Elliott said.

St. Louis' 99 points has it four back of Nashville for first place in the Central Division. The Blues do have six games left and two in hand over the idle Predators, though the third-place Chicago Blackhawks are now just one point behind the Blues. The Blackhawks also have six games remaining and host the Canucks tonight.

The Blues, meanwhile, will visit the Dallas Stars on Friday so backup Jake Allen will start this contest. He has faced the Flames once before, picking up a win while giving up two goals on 32 shots faced.

St. Louis has dropped five of its past seven at home overall, but has beaten Calgary in five straight as the hosting club. The Blues also have outscored the Flames 13-1 over a three-game series win streak while taking eight of the previous 10 encounters overall.

The Flames should come out desperate as they have just a three-point edge on the Los Angeles Kings for third place in the Pacific Division. They have five games left to play to the Kings' six and Los Angeles hosts the Edmonton Oilers tonight.

Calgary picked up a second straight victory on Monday, topping the Dallas Stars 5-3. Dennis Wideman, Johnny Gaudreau and Jiri Hudler all had a goal and an assist each, while Raphael Diaz and Mikael Backlund added goals to support Jonas Hiller's 33 saves.

The Flames moved to 4-1-2 over their past seven games as they try to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

"Commitment is a big part of this group. That's why I always say it's a fun group to coach," said Flames coach Bob Hartley.

"Our players are working hard. We always find a way to get back in games and that speaks volumes about the leadership of this hockey club and the fact that our young players are really focusing on being good teammates and listening to our leaders."

Gaudreau and Hudler have been two of the big leaders.

The 21-year-old Gaudreau was named the league's Rookie of the Month for March after posting 16 points in 15 games. He tops all rookie skaters with 38 assists and 60 points.

The veteran Hudler is coming off a month of March in which he posted 10 goals and 23 points in 15 games.

Calgary concludes a five-game road trip on Saturday in Edmonton and Hiller will start tonight. He is 9-6-1 in 16 meetings with the Blues, posting a 2.86 goals against average and .902 save percentage.