BLUES (4-1-0) at BLACKHAWKS (4-1-1)
TV: FS-MW, CSN-CH
Big story: Chicago looks to pick up two valuable points in the Central Division race against St. Louis, which will try to bounce back from its first defeat of the regular season on Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks.
Blues: A popular preseason Stanley Cup pick, the Blues seemed to be coasting along in the season's first two weeks, winning their first four games, including the dramatic victory over the Blackhawks. That all came to an abrupt end Tuesday night, however, as St. Louis not only suffered its first loss of 2013-14, but did so in resounding fashion courtesy of a 6-2 drubbing by the still unbeaten Sharks.
"They were on the right side of the puck all night and they did it with tenacity and we weren't ready for it," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "So no matter how much you talk about it, we had to experience it and now how do we go from here and move forward? That's the thing."
In addition to the loss, St. Louis will also be without forward Maxim Lapierre, who will have an in-person disciplinary hearing with the League on Friday following an illegal check on San Jose defenseman Dan Boyle, who left the ice on a stretcher and spent the night in a St. Louis hospital. In-person hearings are required for any potential suspension that could exceed five games. Lapierre is currently suspended pending the outcome of the hearing.
"I haven't really looked at it that closely on the video to be honest with you, so I don't want to comment on it until I looked at it a few times," Hitchcock said of the hit on Boyle. "I don't think that had anything to do with the outcome today. One team played hard and smart."
Blackhawks: Unlike the Blues, the Blackhawks are heading into Thursday night's game on a winning note, having defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in a shootout Tuesday night in Raleigh. That game nearly slipped away, however, as Chicago let a two-goal lead disappear when Carolina scored twice in the third period to force overtime.
"You have to give them credit," forward Marian Hossa said. "They came back and showed they're a really good hockey team with lots of skilled players. We let off the gas a little bit and they scored and all of a sudden the game was tied."
The big winner on the night was Chicago forward Patrick Sharp, who not only scored the first goal of the game and the lone goal in the shootout, but also played in his first game since his wife gave birth to the couple's second daughter on Sunday. The victory was the third in a row for the Blackhawks, who kept pace with the still-undefeated Colorado Avalanche in the Central Division. The Hawks are currently three points behind the Avalanche in the standings.
Injury report: With the exception of Lapierre, who is facing suspension, the Blackhawks and Blues should both have a full lineup Thursday night.
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