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At the Rink blog

Potential Lineups for Blue Jackets-Blues

Sunday, 12.18.2011 / 2:15 PM

By Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent / At the Rink blog

ST. LOUIS -- Neither the St. Louis Blues nor Columbus Blue Jackets skated Sunday morning in preparation for today's 7 p.m. (EST) game at Scottrade Center.

Both teams played Saturday night. The Blues (18-9-4) fell 2-1 in a shootout at Nashville, a place in which coach Ken Hitchcock hasn't won since a 2-1 win on Feb. 13, 2001 while coach of the Dallas Stars. He's now 0-10-6-1 in his last 17 games coaching at Bridgestone Arena. He's since been with Philadelphia, Columbus and now St. Louis and hasn't had any success in that building.

The Jackets (9-19-4) just wrapped up a discouraging five-game homestand with a 1-3-1 mark after a 3-2 loss to Tampa Bay.

It'll be the second meeting of the season between the Central Division rivals, with the Blues winning 2-1 on Nov. 27 at Nationwide Arena on a David Backes third-period power play goal. It snapped a 1-1 tie.

The game marks the return of Jackets defenseman Nikita Nikitin to St. Louis for the first time since the Nov. 11 trade that sent Nikitin to Columbus for fellow defenseman Kris Russell.

The Blues could miss Jason Arnott (flu) for a second consecutive game after the veteran center missed Saturday's game.

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No major changes are expected by either team in their respective lineups tonight. The Blues will likely go with Saturday's lineup if Arnott is not ready to go:

Alex Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie

David Perron - Patrik Berglund - Chris Stewart

Matt D'Agostini - Jason Arnott - Jamie Langenbrunner

Chris Porter - Scott Nichol - Ryan Reaves

Carlo Colaiacovo - Alex Pietrangelo

Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk

Kris Russell - Roman Polak

Jaroslav Halak

Brian Elliott

Halak is expected to get the start again after stopping 19 shots in the shootout loss Saturday night. If Arnott returns, Grachev is expected to be a healthy scratch, along with defenseman Ian Cole. If Arnott sits, Evgeny Grachev will slide onto the team's fourth line with Nichol and Reaves; Porter would be elevated to third line with D'Agostini and Langenbrunner. Players on injured reserve for the Blues include winger Andy McDonald (concussion), winger B.J. Crombeen (shoulder), center Vladimir Sobotka (ankle) and defenseman Kent Huskins (ankle).

- - -

The Jackets, who are 1-13-2 when allowing the first goal in a game and have only won 12 of their last 54 games dating back to last season (only seven of them in regulation), are expected to go with the lineup they used Saturday:

Vinny Prospal - Jeff Carter - Rick Nash

Antoine Vermette - Derick Brassard - Mark Letestu

R.J. Umberger - Samuel Pahlsson - Derek Dorsett

Jared Boll - Derek MacKenzie - Ryan Johansen

Marc Methot - James Wisniewski

Fedor Tyutin - Nikita Nikitin

John Moore - Grant Clitsome

Curtis Sanford

Steve Mason

Sanford, a former Blue, is expected to get the start; Steve Mason stopped 25 shots in the loss to the Lightning Saturday.

The Jackets are expected to scratch defenseman Aaron Johnson and left winger Dane Byers. Left winger Kristian Huselius is out indefinitely with a groin injury and defenseman Radek Martinek is out with a concussion.

Playing for my favorite team growing up, I've probably scored that goal a million times in my driveway. It feels good to actually do it in real life.

— Dale Weise, who grew up a Canadiens fan, on scoring the overtime winner in Montreal's 5-4 victory against Tampa Bay in Game 1