NEW YORK - For the Blues, tonight’s game against the New York Rangers is a chance to keep a good thing going and extend the club’s winning streak to five games.
For Kevin Shattenkirk, it’s also homecoming.
The New Rochelle native grew up just a few minutes from Manhattan and Madison Square Garden, where the Blues will meet the Rangers tonight at 6 p.m. CT (FOX Sports Midwest, KMOX 1120 AM).
“Not too many opportunities to go home and see the family,” Shattenkirk told stlouisblues.com. “I think going home and playing in Madison Square Garden in front of my family is something I always dreamed of. I know sometimes my parents can’t believe it’s happening.”
Tonight will be just the second time Shattenkirk has played an NHL game in his hometown. The first was back in January when he scored a power-play goal in the third period to give the Blues a 2-1 victory.
“I think the first period for me was a little surreal. Walking out and seeing the historic ceiling in MSG was something I remember catching myself during the game, just looking around,” Shattenkirk said. “But it was still a hockey game. We go into the third period and get a power-play chance. I was fortunate to take a shot that kinda pin-balled into the net and would end up being the game-winning goal. You really couldn't have scripted it any better for me.”
Shattenkirk said he grew up a Rangers fan, saying defenseman Brian Leech was his favorite player of all-time. Other favorites included goalie Mike Richter and forward Mark Messier, who practiced at the same rink Shattenkirk skated at as a child.
“It’s fun to be back home,” he said. “I’m here in the summers, but to be playing in front of family and all these friends I’ve known over time saying they’re coming to the game to watch, that they’re proud…it’s an amazing feeling.”
Click here to watch an exclusive interview with Shattenkirk about growing up a Rangers fan and returning home to play at Madison Square Garden.
FACING THE RANGERS
The Blues have faced their share of adversity and still are, whether it’s injuries to T.J. Oshie (concussion) and Paul Stastny (upper-body) or the illness that’s been circulating through the dressing room.
But the Rangers have had their share of difficulties, too. They’ve picked up points in five of their last six games (4-1-1) despite being without forward Derek Stepan (leg) and defensemen Kevin Klein (foot) and Dan Boyle (hand). In addition, the Rangers announced yesterday that Ryan McDonagh will miss three to four weeks with a separated shoulder.
Tonight, they’ll also be without goalie Henrik Lundqvist as he gets the night off. Cam Talbot will start between the pipes.
In the first meeting between the teams, the Rangers took a 3-2 win from the Blues on Oct. 9 at Scottrade Center. The Blues started slow in that game and got better as it went on, but by then it was too late.
As for tonight, defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said the Blues can beat the Rangers if they just keeping doing what they’re doing.
“We’re rolling four lines and six ‘D’ real well. Both goalies have been outstanding,” he said. “We just have to make sure we limit the opportunities (because) we’ve been giving up more shots than usual.”
A STAR IN THE MAKING
Vladimir Tarasenko was named the NHL’s No. 1 Star of the Week on Monday morning thanks to a five-goal performance last week.
Tarasenko finished ahead of Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk and Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury.
The Blues forward leads the team in goals (6) and points (11) through 10 games this season.
STASTNY GETTING CLOSER
Head Coach Ken Hitchcock is hopeful he can get Paul Stastny (upper-body) back in the lineup within the next three or four games.
"We put him on the ice for final evaluation," Hitchcock said. "If the evaluation is proper after a full session of contact, we would evaluate him to play in the next three or four games.
"Today is the first 100 percent green light from a hitting standpoint."
The Blues have won four consecutive games, their longest stretch since a five-game winning streak since March. They currently share the NHL’s longest active win streak with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Blues are 4-0-1 in their last five games at Madison Square Garden. The Blues’ last regulation loss at MSG was Jan. 20, 1998.
Brian Elliott will start in goal tonight. He’s riding a three-game win streak and ranks sixth in the NHL with a 1.96 goals-against average (among goalies with at least five starts).
Shattenkirk has nine points this season, ranking second in the League among defensemen. Only San Jose’s Brent Burns has more (13). In five career games against the Rangers, he has two goals and two assists.
Alexander Steen has three goals and four assists (seven points) in his last four games against the New York Rangers.
David Backes has a three-game point streak against the Rangers, scoring two goals and four assists.