Blues hope to make up ground against Jets

( - The St. Louis Blues will try to inch closer to the top spot in the Central Division when they host the Winnipeg Jets in Tuesday's battle at Scottrade Center.

The Blues are four points behind the Nashville Predators for the division lead. The Predators are idle Tuesday after halting a six-game losing streak with a win Monday in Arizona.

St. Louis also is three points ahead of Chicago for second place in the division.

Winnipeg, meanwhile, is holding onto the last wild card spot in the Western Conference and is three points ahead of Los Angeles for that distinction. The Jets also are one point behind Minnesota for the first wild card. The Kings visit Colorado on Tuesday, while the Wild are at home against New Jersey.

The Jets helped out St. Louis' division title hopes on Saturday, notching a 3-1 win in Nashville. Michael Hutchinson stopped 20 shots for Winnipeg, while Drew Stafford and Blake Wheeler each contributed a goal and an assist to the win.

Michael Frolik also scored for the Jets, who have won two of their last three.

"The effort was outstanding, everyone had a piece of that," said Winnipeg head coach Paul Maurice. "I think that game gets won on leadership. Specifically, (Andrew) Ladd, Wheeler and (Mark) Stuart. The coaches can say whatever they want before the periods and before games, but unless you've got those three guys in the room, you're not getting that."

Winnipeg improved to 16-10-7 as the guest and is playing the second part of a four-game road trip tonight.

The Blues are 3-1-1 over their last five tests and they halted a two-game slide with Saturday's 6-1 rout of the Maple Leafs. St. Louis jumped out to a 5-0 lead in Toronto before the Leafs hit the scoreboard for the first and only time a little over three minutes into the third period.

The Blues, who outshot Toronto 44-24, raced out to a 3-0 lead with a trio of goals in the opening period before carrying a five-goal cushion into the third.

T.J. Oshie, Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz each had a goal and an assist to lead the way in the blowout victory. David Backes, Paul Stastny and Chris Butler also found the back of the net, while Alexander Steen and Jori Lehtera each posted three assists apiece for the Blues.

"I like the way we played today. I thought we kept our foot on the gas the whole game," St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said.

Brian Elliott made 23 saves in the triumph and he is expected to start again tonight when the Blues begin a three-game homestand. St. Louis is 22-8-2 as the host this season and Elliott owns a 7-2-2 record and 2.79 goals against average when facing Winnipeg in his career.

St. Louis has dominated this series in recent years and carries an 11-game point streak (9-0-2) versus the Jets into tonight's encounter. The point streak dates back to when the Winnipeg franchise was known as the Atlanta Thrashers, who earned the club's last regulation win over the Blues with a 4-2 win in St. Louis on Oct. 8, 2009.

The Blues have claimed four straight against the Jets/Thrashers in the Gateway City.