Coming off big win, Blues host Ducks

ST. LOUIS -- Could a 2-1 win at Minnesota on Tuesday night be the turning point the St. Louis Blues so desperately need?

That answer will start to take shape as the Blues host Anaheim on Friday night. But St. Louis is certainly riding high after a hard-fought win over the Central Division leader.

"That was our biggest win of the year, no question," Blues goalie Jake Allen told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "The Winter Classic is a different story; that's a game you'll never forget. But right now for the playoffs, the position we're in, it's the biggest win."

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That position is tenuous at best, mostly due to the Blues' Jekyll and Hyde act this season.

St. Louis went 1-4 to end January, which culminated in the firing of Ken Hitchcock. Then it went 7-1 to begin new coach Mike Yeo's tenure. That was followed by a five-game losing streak that was snapped in Colorado on Sunday.

The Blues are one point ahead of Los Angeles for the final wild-card spot and four points behind Nashville for third place in the Central Division. St. Louis has one game in hand on Los Angeles and two on Nashville.

Tuesday's game against the Wild was the beginning of a six-game stretch for the Blues against teams that hold playoff positions.

"Don't give up on us," Yeo told NHL.com. "We're still building. We're still trying to find our way. It's a new group of leadership, it's a new group of players. Although, as an organization, we've done great things the last several years, it's this group that's trying to carve out our own identity and our own culture, and tonight was a good step."

The Blues also made news off the ice on Tuesday, announcing that they had signed prospect Tage Thompson to an entry-level deal. Thompson, 19, was the Blues' first-round pick (26th overall) last June.

The 6-foot-5, 200-pound forward tallied 33 goals and 64 points in 70 games during his two-year career at the University of Connecticut and also won a gold medal with Team USA at the IIHF World Junior Championships in January.

Anaheim enters the contest riding high after a 1-0 victory at Chicago on Thursday night.

Goalie Jonathan Bernier made 43 saves against the Blackhawks to earn his 100th career victory. The win moved the Ducks into sole possession of second place in the Pacific Division, past Edmonton. Anaheim has its first two-game winning streak since Jan. 17-19.

"I felt really good and wanted to have a full 60 minutes," Bernier told NHL.com. "It's a fun building to play in. We needed those two points."

The Ducks have won three out of their last four games. This is the first of two games within five days against St. Louis as the Ducks will host the Blues on Wednesday.

"We know we can play better as a group, but the important thing is finding a way to win," Bernier told NHL.com. "We need to turn the page because we have a quick turnaround tomorrow in St. Louis. We have to make sure we're ready."