The St. Louis Blues have put together an incredible turnaround under new head coach Ken Hitchcock. They'll try to notch a point for the eighth time in nine games with their new bench boss as they host the Calgary Flames on Friday night.
The Blues have gone 5-1-2 since Hitchcock took over for a fired Davis Payne on Nov. 6. They went 4-0-1 on a five-game residency at the start of Hitchcock's tenure and then suffered a shootout loss in Minnesota on Nov. 19.
The first regulation loss under Hitchcock followed three days later at home versus the Kings, and the Blues figured to have their hands full on Wednesday against a Penguins club that had Sidney Crosby back in the lineup for the second time.
However, St. Louis held Crosby without a point and escaped Pittsburgh with a 3-2 overtime win when Alex Pietrangelo scored with 52.2 seconds left in the extra frame.
Scott Nichol and Jamie Langenbrunner also lit the lamp for the Blues and Brian Elliott made 31 saves to improve to 8-1-0 on the year. He also leads the league with a 1.48 goals-against average and a .948 save percentage.
Knowing his team has made major strides in getting back into the playoff race, Hitchcock said it would have been disappointing not to get two points considering how hard he felt his team played.
"We're on a second game in two nights and they've got energy and they're coming at us and we're going at them. And then we took it out of a track meet for two periods and then put it in the track meet in the third," he said.
Now with a little rest, the Blues will try to keep the Flames winless on their four-game road trip. Calgary has dropped consecutive tests in Columbus and Detroit, getting bested by a 5-3 margin by the Red Wings on Wednesday.
"You cannot take bad penalties and it killed us tonight," said Calgary head coach Brent Sutter.
The Flames outscored the Blues 14-3 in sweeping the four-game series last year before the Blues opened up this season's series with a 5-2 home win. Calgary countered on Oct. 28 with a home win of its own and has won six of the last eight in St. Louis.
Kiprusoff made 28 saves in Calgary's win over St. Louis and Curtis Glencross is leading with three points in the two meetings.
The Blues have six players with two points against the Flames this year, led by Alex Steen's two goals. Elliott gave up two goals on 17 shots in the loss, while Jaroslav Halak started the victory.