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Chicago
Blackhawks
31-42-9
St. Louis
Blues
34-35-13

28 SOG
19 SOG
1st2nd3rdT
CHI
STL
game preview

Blackhawks-Blues Preview

Thursday, 01.04.2007 / 7:00 PM

Associated Press

The Chicago Blackhawks have started slow against the St. Louis Blues in their last two matchups, but ended with big finishes both times.

The Blackhawks try for their second win in St. Louis in three days, and fifth straight overall against the Blues, when the Central Division rivals meet on Thursday.

Chicago (17-17-5) scored all of its goals in the third period en route to a 4-1 win at St. Louis on Tuesday. Martin Havlat and Peter Bondra scored 59 seconds apart to erase a one-goal deficit, and Jeff Hamilton and Martin Lapointe also scored.

In the teams' previous meeting on Dec. 12, the Blackhawks found the back of the net three times in a 2:04 span early in the third period to rally for a 3-2 win, spoiling the debut of Blues coach Andy Murray.

"Eerily similar," Murray said after Tuesday's loss. "It's frustrating to lose like that. We need to learn how to beat them. They've figured out how to beat us the last couple of games."

The Blackhawks have won four in a row over the Blues for the first time since 1982-83. Chicago had dropped the first two meetings of the season. The only other matchup left between these division foes will be in Chicago on Feb. 25.

Bondra, who signed as a free agent with the Blackhawks on Dec. 10, has scored two of his three goals this season during the flurries against St. Louis. He's eighth among active players with 501 career goals.

Goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin will try for his fourth win in a row overall against the Blues and fourth straight in St. Louis. Tuesday's win was his 15th in 27 games this season. He went 17-26-6 in 50 games last season after signing a four-year, $27 million contract with Chicago.

The four-time All-Star has allowed two goals or fewer in six of his last eight starts.

"He is the difference every night," Havlat said of Khabibulin. "He keeps us in the game."

Khabibulin made a season-high 38 saves in Tuesday's victory.

"He was standing on his head left, right and center," Blues goalie Manny Legace said. "He had a great game and we couldn't buy a goal."

Legace was on track for his second shutout win in three games, but ended up losing for the first time in regulation since Dec. 5. In nine games since that 5-1 loss to Detroit, Legace is 5-1-3 with a 1.76 goals-against average.

St. Louis (12-20-7) had recorded points in eight consecutive games - its longest streak since doing it in 10 straight from Oct. 12-Nov. 5, 2002 - before losing Tuesday. The Blues haven't allowed a first-period goal in 11 games under Murray, one shy of the NHL record set in 1974 by Los Angeles.

Keith Tkachuk extended his goal-scoring streak to three games, his longest since he tallied seven in a five-game run from Dec. 1-13, 2005.

2006-2007 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Feb 25 '07STL 1 at CHI 5A. Aucoin
Jan 04 '07CHI 0 at STL 2L. Stempniak
Jan 02 '07CHI 4 at STL 1P. Bondra
Dec 12 '06CHI 3 at STL 2J. Hamilton
Dec 01 '06STL 2 at CHI 5T. Salmelainen
Nov 10 '06STL 1 at CHI 3R. Vrbata
Oct 21 '06STL 4 at CHI 3P. Cajanek
Oct 14 '06CHI 3 at STL 4R. Dvorak
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
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PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%