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Blues Will Host Wild Without Tarasenko

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues

ST. LOUIS - The Blues will be without Vladimir Tarasenko in tonight’s game against the Minnesota Wild (7 p.m., Scottrade Center - FSMW, KMOX).

Tarasenko was hit late in the second period Thursday by Anaheim Ducks forward Shawn Horcoff and headed to the locker room for repairs. He did finish the game, returning for the third period and compiled 18 minutes of ice time.

Hopefully, holding Tarasenko out of the lineup tonight is simply precautionary. The team can’t afford to lose another top forward, as its already without Paul Stastny (foot), Jaden Schwartz (ankle) and Patrik Berglund (shoulder).

“We weren’t sure later in the day yesterday on Vladi, but we still had a little hope that he was going to play,” Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said after the morning skate today.

So, how long will Tarasenko be out?

“He’s out for the month of October,” Hitchcock said. “When November turns, we’ll let you know on that one.”

“He gutted it out last game, and you never want to see your top-end guys go down,” Steve Ott said of Tarasenko. “Collectively in this room, we’ve got to pull it together. We’ve got a lot of guys who are injured right now and a lot of guys who are playing through things. Two big points are on the line.”

The Blues will host the Minnesota Wild tonight, a team that played last night, beating the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 at Xcel Energy Center. Minnesota has won four of its last five games.

“When they beat us in the playoffs last year, and they beat us the first game this year, that obviously gets your attention,” Hitchcock said. “They’re probably playing the best of anybody in the Central right now. Nashville probably has a little argument, but they’re playing the best hockey, the most dynamic hockey in the Central, which is saying a lot because it’s such a good division. To me, they have the firepower other teams don’t have right now.”

The Blues dropped the first matchup between the teams this season on Oct. 10 in St. Paul. Charlie Coyle scored twice and Zach Parise added a goal, while goalie Devan Dubnyk made 30 saves.

Currently, the Wild and Blues are even in the Central Division, each with 15 points and a 7-2-1 record.

“They were the better team in the first period (Oct. 10), then we started to take the game over in the second and third,” Hitchcock said. “That’s what we’re looking to do. We’ve got to play a real simple, straightforward, straight-line game in order to put some pressure on them.”

PARAYKO GOOD TO GO

With all the injuries piling up, the Blues might have dodged a bullet with defenseman Colton Parayko, who left Thursday’s game vs. Anaheim late.

Parayko did not skate with the team in practice Friday, but he was on the ice this morning and declared himself good to go tonight vs. Minnesota.

“I’m not exactly sure (what happened),” Parayko said. “I think I clipped someone else’s skate and it just jammed almost, but it’s all good now…I made sure to take care of it and look after myself to prevent further injury, but everything is well.”

OTT GETS HOT

Blues forward Steve Ott was named the first star in Thursday’s game vs. Anaheim. Ott set up a 2-on-0 rush for Tarasenko and Jori Lehtera in the second period, which helped the Blues tie the game 1-1.

Later, after Tarasenko was injured, Ott engaged Ducks forward Corey Perry in a fight and took him off the ice for five minutes.

“I fooled somebody upstairs (on the first star honor),” Ott joked. “The opportunity arose in the situation where I got to pass the puck up to Vladi and Lehtera for an assist. I just wanted to compete hard against Anaheim, and I thought to a man in this room, we did so. It really pushed our team.”

“He’s not running around chasing the game, trying to impact the game after the whistle,” Hitchcock said of Ott. “He’s playing the game the proper way and he’s having a big impact in the outcome. He’s creating a lot of scoring chances because of what’s he’s doing… He’s in the right spot and he’s got the hockey sense and smarts to create the turnovers and he’s taking advantage of it.”

PROJECTED LINES

Hitchcock said not to pay much attention to the lines in today’s morning skate, saying he would expect the “whole right side” to move around throughout the game.

“(Troy) Brouwer is going to come out with (David) Backes sometimes, he’s going to come out with (Jori) Lehtera sometimes, we’re going to punch (Ty) Rattie up there sometimes,” Hitchcock said.

Take today’s morning skate forward lines with a grain of salt. Defense and goaltending is probably set in stone, though.

Forwards
Steen - Lehtera - Brouwer
Ott - Backes - Upshall
Fabbri - Gomez - Jaskin
Reaves - Brozdiak - Rattie

Defense
Bouwmeester - Pietrangelo
Gunnarsson - Parayko
Edmundson - Bortuzzo

Goalie
Allen

BLUE NOTES

Jake Allen will make his third consecutive start tonight. He’s allowed just one goal on 49 shots over his last two starts.

Fans of all ages attending tonight’s game are encouraged to wear costumes and can trick-or-treat on the Plaza and Mezzanine Level concourse to collect candy courtesy of Costco. In addition, the Blues will hold a costume contest on social media at the game, and photos will be provided by Fish Eye Fun outside Section 124. If wearing a costume with a mask, fans will need to remove the mask upon entering Scottrade Center.

Limited edition Halloween pucks are available outside Section 119 for $30. Pucks will be selected at random and are autographed by Blues players.

With an assist in Thursday’s win against the Ducks, Scott Gomez earned the 750th point of his NHL career.

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