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Blues looking to end Blackhawks' streak

Thursday, 02.28.2013 / 2:11 PM

By Louie Korac - Correspondent / 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

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2012-2013 At the Rink blog
Blues looking to end Blackhawks' streak

ST. LOUIS -- Someone has tried unsuccessfully to beat the Chicago Blackhawks in regulation or overtime 19 times this season, including the St. Louis Blues. Now that they're again facing a Blackhawks team that is still cruising, the Blues are asking, "Why not us?"

The Blackhawks, who come to St. Louis for an 8 p.m. ET puck-drop Thursday, have gotten at least one point in 19 consecutive to start the season. They come to St. Louis with a 16-0-3 record, and the Blues (10-6-2) are aware that they're up against the League's best team.

"They're a really good team," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of the Blackhawks, who defeated the Blues 3-2 on Jan. 22 in Chicago. "Winning is a feeling. When you have the right feeling going, you win all the close games, you get the goal at the end, you win in overtime, you win in the shootout. It's a feeling, and they've got the feeling going right now. Somebody's going to have to break the feeling. Might as well be us."

The Blackhawks jumped out to a 3-0 lead against the Blues on Jan. 22 before withstanding the Blues' third-period rush. So St. Louis would love nothing more than to avenge that loss and knock off their Central Division rivals.

"It would be great," Blues defenseman Ian Cole said. "Obviously it would be icing on the cake. But I think that first and foremost we have to get two points any way we can.

"Would we rather go out, dominate them and impose our will on them and really show we can be a really elite team like they are? Absolutely. But they're obviously a good team. They're not going to let us step on the ice and beat them."

Throughout the Blues locker room, players seemed extra motivated to beat a division rival that has been the talk of the League so far this season.

"That's a team that we want to beat. That's a heated rivalry," Blues wing Chris Stewart said. "Any chance we get to stick it to them, we definitely want to."

But the Blues coaching staff was preaching healthy respect against a team that has shown few weaknesses since the season began.

"They're like a pack of five. That's how you win. There's no gap in their game. There's no offensive gap and there's no defensive gap," Hitchcock said. "I think every team in the League is beatable. They've played really good and [in] any of the close games, they've found ways to win or get points. It's a pretty remarkable story, to be honest with you."

More than a month after their first matchup in Chicago, Hitchcock is looking to learn from his team's early-season mistakes.

"When we played our game, they couldn't play with us. When they played their game, we couldn't play with them," Hitchcock said. "It'll be interesting."

Perhaps more impressive than Chicago's current 19-game run is the team's streak of 16 straight road games with at least one point. Their last regulation road loss? It came March 6, 2012 against the Blues in St. Louis.

Quote of the Day

We've got to find a way to win a game. He's played well in the minors, now he gets his opportunity. We tried [with Jonathan Bernier]. The way I look at it, you get opportunities and you make the most of it. That's what [James Reimer] did. Now another opportunity is here and Sparks ... you gotta grab it. Is he ready? We'll find out.

— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock to the Toronto Star on recalling goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL to start Monday in his NHL debut
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