BLUES (33-11-5) at RANGERS (27-22-3)
TV: FS-MW, MSG
Last 10: St. Louis 6-4-0; New York 7-2-1
Season series: This is the second of two games between the St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers. When they met in the season's opening weeks, the Rangers were struggling and the Blues took advantage for a 5-3 win at Scottrade Center on Oct. 12. David Backes scored twice while Alexander Steen finished with a goal and three assists.
Big story: Each team comes off a defeat Tuesday, though in very dissimilar fashion. The Rangers, on a surge of late, let a two-goal lead slip on home ice against the rival New York Islanders, while the Blues were thumped by the New Jersey Devils on the second night of a back-to-back. It was their fourth loss in six games.
Blues: The first two games of a four-game road trip saw drastically different results for St. Louis, which finishes its journey Saturday on Long Island. The Blues were on top of their game in a 4-1 win against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday, but anything but the following night as they lost 7-1 in New Jersey.
Jaroslav Halak was supposed to get the night off after beating Detroit, but he was pressed into action before the end of the first period after Brian Elliott gave up three goals on nine shots. Halak yielded four goals on 14 shots. Still, their teammates hoisted the blame for the rout on their own shoulders.
"It's brutal," forward Chris Stewart said in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Those are guys who battle for us all year and saved our [butts] two or three years in a row now. So we've got to be better for them. It's time to take a serious look in the mirror and get ready for New York."
Rangers: Only eight points separate the second-place Rangers from the eighth-place Islanders in the Metropolitan Division standings after the Isles rallied from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Blueshirts 5-3 at Madison Square Garden. This is the final game indoors for the Rangers before 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series coming up at Yankee Stadium against the Devils and Islanders.
An illness kept goaltender Henrik Lundqvist from dressing on Tuesday, but he was back at practice Wednesday wearing his pinstriped pads. Meanwhile, the Rangers shook up their defense corps by acquiring Kevin Klein from the Nashville Predators in exchange for 2008 first-round pick Michael Del Zotto.
"He's going to fit in our system very well," general manager Glen Sather said of Klein, who has four more years remaining on his contract and will be in New York by Thursday. "The coaches know him, know what they are getting, know how he plays."
Who's hot: Steen scored the Blues' lone goal Tuesday, his career-high 25th, and his first in three games since returning from a concussion. … Rangers forward Rick Nash has consecutive two-goal games and nine goals in as many games. Forward Chris Kreider had a goal and two assists against the Islanders.
Injury report: St. Louis forward Vladimir Tarasenko (flu-like symptoms) has missed the past two games. Forward Maxim Lapierre (lower body) is on injured reserve. … New York forward Derek Dorsett (broken fibula) is on injured reserve.
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