Welcome |Account|Sign Out 
NEW! SIGN IN WITH YOUR SOCIAL PROFILE
OR
Username or EmailPassword
Columbus
Blue Jackets
33-42-7
St. Louis
Blues
34-35-13
SO
31 SOG
35 SOG
1st2nd3rdOTsoT
CBJ ()
STL ()
game preview

Blue Jackets-Blues Preview

Tuesday, 02.20.2007 / 7:00 PM

Associated Press

Share with your Friends


Blue Jackets-Blues Preview
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. St. Louis Blues

The St. Louis Blues know what it's like to be at the bottom of their division, and they're playing like they don't want to be back there any time soon.

The surging Blues look to match their longest winning streak of the season when they face the Blue Jackets on Tuesday night.

St. Louis (25-26-9) had the worst record in the NHL when Andy Murray took over as coach in mid-December, but has gone 18-9-5 since to pull within 10 points of eighth-place Nashville in the Western Conference.

"We have to win a lot of games to get in the playoffs," Blues captain Dallas Drake said. "We have to beat everybody, we have to get on a huge run."

St. Louis, eight points ahead of last-place Columbus (23-31-5) in the Central Division, has won three straight since a 6-5 loss to San Jose last Tuesday. Four victories in a row would match the Blues' longest run of the season, set from Jan. 16-26.

Rookie David Backes had two goals to lift St. Louis to a 5-3 win over Minnesota on Sunday night.

The Blues have scored five or more goals seven times, with all but two of those games coming under Murray. They've also gotten the first goal in 20 of 32 games since their current coach took over. St. Louis forward Jamal Mayers opened the scoring Sunday.

Backes has been hot lately, recording two goals twice in his last three games after finding the back of the net just once in his first 22. His first career two-goal game came in a 4-2 win over the Blue Jackets on Wednesday night.

"I'm getting a little more confidence, realizing if I get the puck anywhere near the net if I shoot it's got a chance to go in," said Backes, who has six goals in 27 games. "It's awesome."

Columbus has lost six of its last eight and is all but eliminated from playoff contention.

The Blue Jackets fell 3-2 to Montreal on Sunday night in the finale of a 2-4-0 homestand, the longest in franchise history.

Nikolai Zherdev and Gilbert Brule scored in the third period for Columbus. It was Zherdev's first goal since Jan. 6 and eighth of the season, while two of Brule's six goals have come in his last two games.

"It's hard mounting comebacks like that," said Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock, whose team trailed 3-0 going into the final period.

Pascal Leclaire allowed three goals for the second straight start, including Wednesday's matchup with St. Louis, after missing 20 games due to a knee injury suffered Dec. 22 against Vancouver.

"It was weird," said Leclaire, whose first post-injury action was off the bench in a 5-4 loss to Chicago on Feb. 11. "For me it was a little frustrating when I needed surgery, but stuff happens, and I'm not the first goalie who gets hurt."

Leclaire is 3-2-2 with a 2.53 goals-against average in seven starts against the Blues.

St. Louis leads the season series with Columbus 3-2-0, with all three of its wins coming on the road.

2006-2007 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 27 '07CBJ 4 at STL 1F. Modin
Mar 25 '07STL 1 at CBJ 4M. Malhotra
Feb 20 '07CBJ 4 at STL 5 - SOL. Stempniak
Feb 14 '07STL 4 at CBJ 2D. Backes
Jan 09 '07STL 4 at CBJ 3 - SOL. Stempniak
Dec 09 '06CBJ 5 at STL 1S. Fedorov
Nov 22 '06STL 4 at CBJ 3 - SOB. Guerin
Nov 09 '06CBJ 4 at STL 2D. Fritsche
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%