Blues aim to bounce back against visiting Isles
The St. Louis Blues will try to rebound from just their third regulation loss of 2012 when they host the New York Islanders tonight at Scottrade Center.
St. Louis has gone 13-3-2 since the start of January and one of the few games that ended without the Blues gaining a point came in a 2-1 loss at Columbus on Tuesday. The Blues hope to get back on track tonight in the Gateway City, where they've set a club record for most consecutive home games with a point, going 16-0-3 since a 5-2 loss to Chicago on Dec. 3. St. Louis is 24-3-4 at home on the season.
In general, not much has gone wrong for the Blues since they fired head coach Davis Payne and replaced him with Ken Hitchcock back in early November. The club has posted a 28-8-7 record since the coaching change and the Blues haven't lost consecutive games in regulation since Hitchcock took over. That could change tonight, as St. Louis tries to avoid its first 0-2 stretch since it lost in Calgary and Edmonton on Oct. 28 and 30, respectively.
St. Louis is currently the fourth seed in the Western Conference and is three points ahead of Nashville for that distinction. The Blues are also five points behind Detroit for first place in the Central Division.
The Blues fired 32 shots at Steve Mason on Tuesday and only one found its way past the Columbus goaltender. Derek Dorsett scored the game-winning goal for the Blue Jackets at 6:49 of the third period.
David Backes scored the lone goal for St. Louis, which had a four-game winning streak stopped. Jaroslav Halak turned away 31-of-33 shots in defeat.
"We got outplayed for two periods," Hitchcock said. "We outplayed them in the first, but they outplayed us badly in the second and third. They were the better team today."
On the injury front, the Blues have played the last six games without Jason Arnott (shoulder), but the veteran forward is expected to return tonight. Meanwhile, fellow forward Matt D'Agostini has sat out four in a row with a head injury and will miss another game tonight.
The Islanders have posted a 5-2-1 record over their last eight games, as they continue to fight for a spot in the playoffs. With 56 points, New York is currently eight behind Toronto for the East's eighth and final postseason berth.
Evgeni Nabokov was the main reason behind a New York win in its last trip to the ice, as the veteran goaltender stopped 37 shots to help lift the Islanders to Tuesday's 3-1 victory in Winnipeg. The Russian netminder is 8-3 with a 1.56 goals-against average in his last 11 games and he could land a nice price if New York decides to deal him before the Feb. 27 trade deadline.
P.A. Parenteau had a goal and an assist on Tuesday, while Matt Martin and Matt Moulson also scored for the Islanders.
New York has won four straight and six of its last seven road games, improving its record as the guest this season to 12-11-3.
The Isles and Blues have each won three games in their last six meetings against each other. St. Louis has taken two of the last three encounters at Scottrade Center, but the Isles have six wins in their previous eight trips to Missouri.