ST. LOUIS - Just three days removed from facing the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre, the teams will meet again tonight, this time in St. Louis (7 p.m., FSMW, KMOX).
In the first meeting, the Blues earned a tough 3-2 win thanks to Alexander Steen’s game-winning goal in the second period. Brian Elliott made 24 saves against his former team, and Alex Pietrangelo had two assists.
Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson expects to see a similar game tonight.
“Like we saw in Ottawa, (they’re) a tough forechecking, skating team with a lot of skill, especially on their power play,” Gunnarsson said. “Since we played them a couple of days ago, we kind of know their lineup and how they play a little bit more. We tried to bring it. And so did they. A lot of hits, a lot of battles.
“Essentially that’s where you’re going to lose the game, in the one-on-one battles, so that’s where we’ve got to be strong tonight.”
The Blues are looking for their third consecutive win after dropping the first two games of their road trip last week.
“I think the thing you have to be ready for is the tempo,” Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said. “The tempo of the game is very fast. They play very fast, they’re fast with the puck, fast without the puck, they put a lot of pressure on you and you have to be ready for it.”
‘DON’T CALL THEM A FOURTH LINE’
When asked about the strong play of the fourth line, Hitchcock took exception.
“You can’t call them that. They’re a third line and the coach chooses to play them fourth,” he said. “They’re not a fourth line anymore, not when you play as well as they’re playing right now.”
On Saturday in Ottawa, Maxim Lapierre buried his first goal of the season thanks to a nice set up by Steve Ott. Sunday in Winnipeg, Ryan Reaves scored the game-winning goal early in the third period.
“They put pressure on the puck, they score, they create offense, they play defense by occupying the offensive zone. When they do get in their zone, they get great puck support,” Hitchcock added. “They play exactly like a third line should play.”
Elliott, who was drafted by Ottawa in 2003, is expected to start between the pipes tonight. He is 2-0-1 against his former team and currently ranks first in the NHL overall in goals-against average (1.87) and second in save-percentage (.927).
Barret Jackman will appear in his 745th game as a Blue tonight and will pass Brett Hull (744) to claim third on the Blues’ all-time games played list. Jackman trails only Bernie Federko (927) and Brian Sutter (779) on the list.
With a win tonight, Hitchcock would tie Mike Keenan for sixth on the NHL’s all-time coaching wins list at 672. Hitchcock has coached in 1,261 regular season games in his career.
Including Saturday’s win, the Blues are 3-0-2 in their last five games against the Senators.