Well-rested Blues host showdown vs. Canucks

(SportsNetwork.com) - With just seven games under their belt, the St. Louis Blues have skated in the fewest games of any team this season.

On Friday, they emerge from a week-long break to host the Vancouver Canucks, who are set to wrap a season-high road trip with their NHL-high 13th contest of the campaign.

The Blues have been out of action since a 4-3 shootout loss at Winnipeg last Friday, when they played the back end of consecutive games on back-to-back nights. They have lost two of three since opening the campaign 4-0 and seven games through the first 22 days of the season marks the lightest schedule to begin a campaign in club history.

St. Louis spent its time off tweaking its lines after failing to hold a lead over the Jets a week ago. Alexander Steen scored late in the first period and again early in the third to stake the Blues to a 3-1 edge, but the Jets scored twice in the frame's final 6:47 and then outscored St. Louis 3-2 in the seven- round shootout.

David Backes scored his sixth goal, matching his total from all of last season, while Brian Elliott made 26 saves in his first start of the season.

"We were managing the game properly," said Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock, "and we made a puck error and gave them a little bit of life, but we had complete control. They were just playing the game out and we made mistakes with the puck that hurt us. But we were in complete control and rolling four lines, everything was going good. It was a brutal loss."

Hitchcock is expected to start Jaroslav Halak tonight and he is 4-2-0 with a 2.18 goals against average in seven lifetime meetings with the Canucks. St. Louis is right back in action on Saturday in Nashville.

The Canucks wrap their own string of back-to-back games, having picked up a 3-2 shootout victory over the hosting New Jersey Devils on Thursday night. It marked Vancouver's second meeting of the season with New Jersey and former goaltender Cory Schneider, with the Canucks and netminder Roberto Luongo winning both games.

Luongo made 28 saves and stopped all three Devils skaters he faced in the shootout, while Mike Santorelli had the lone tally of the tiebreaker.

Santorelli had scored the overtime winner the last time the clubs met.

Ryan Kesler notched a goal and an assist, Daniel Sedin scored once and Henrik Sedin had a pair of assists to give him nine points over a seven-game point streak.

"It's one of those games on the road where you're grinding and you're trying to get a point and we got two tonight so it feels great," Daniel Sedin said.

Vancouver improved to 4-1-1 on its seven-game road trip and is set to play its first home game since Oct. 12 when it hosts Washington on Monday.

The Canucks played a good part of last night's game down two forwards when both David Booth and Dale Weise departed with lower-body injuries. Their status for this game is unknown, but Vancouver did recall center Pascal Pelletier and winger Darren Archibald from Utica of the American Hockey League.

It is unknown if Luongo will get the call on back-to-back nights or if rookie Eddie Lack will make his third career start. Luongo is 15-11-1 with a 2.32 GAA and three shutouts in 28 games versus the Blues.

The Canucks are 3-0-2 in their last five meetings with the Blues, but have dropped three of the past four in St. Louis.