ST. LOUIS - The Blues will have David Backes, Alexander Steen and Jay Bouwmeester in the lineup tonight when they host the New York Islanders at 7 p.m. at Scottrade Center (FSMW, KMOX 1120 AM).
Backes joined the team for the morning skate today wearing a shield to protect his jaw. On Monday, a shot from T.J. Oshie was deflected and hit Backes near the mouth. The captain, who Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said had “enough dental work” for one night, won’t miss a game.
“It definitely got deflected but it still came off my stick first. You feel terrible,” Oshie said. “I was probably whitish-green in here after that period. I feel terrible about it but Backs went out there in front of the net (today) and told me to start shooting pucks on him.
“He’s a tough guy and he’s ready to go.”
Steen, who took warm-ups last Saturday in Long Island but what was held out the lineup with a lower-body injury, will return tonight after missing two games. Steen skated with the team yesterday and said it felt good to get back out there.
Bouwmeester will return after missing eight games with a groin injury. The defenseman was injured on Nov. 22 in Ottawa and had his “Iron Man” streak end at 737 games. He was a regular in practice Wednesday and was back on the ice today.
“Obviously everybody wants to play. It’s not a lot of fun sitting out, but it is what it is,” Bouwmeester said after practice. “It’s a funny thing. Sometimes (you heal) quick, sometimes it takes more time.”
Hitchcock said the Blues will be without defenseman Carl Gunnarsson, who is “no better” after being hit near the boards by Islanders forward Anders Lee last Saturday. Lee wasn’t suspended but was fined by the NHL Department of Player Safety.
SO WE MEET AGAIN
Five days ago, the Blues overcame a 3-0 first period deficit at Nassau Coliseum to take a 6-4 victory against the Islanders. Kevin Shattenkirk and Joakim Lindstrom each had three points and Paul Stastny scored twice to help the Blues overcome the deficit. Martin Brodeur earned his first win as a Blue in the game.
On Tuesday, the Islanders had a 3-0 lead after the first period in Minnesota and ended up losing 5-4.
"[The players] [have to] figure it out," Islanders coach Jack Capuano told reporters after the game. "... You learn from it and move forward. It wasn't like we played a terrible game. I didn't like the fact they were stronger than us around our net. That was the difference in the game."
Oshie said the Blues will have to limit their mistakes. When they made them last week, the Islanders capitalized.
“They’re pretty scary on offense when you make mistakes. We’ve got to limit their chances and keep the pucks in their end,” Oshie said. “It’s going to be a good battle out there. It was a good match last time and we’ve got to keep that momentum on our side.”
Jake Allen will start in goal.
A SPECIAL VISITOR
The Blues invited Lucas Barton and his family to today’s morning skate at Scottrade Center. Lucas, 5, was diagnosed with autism when he was 19 months old and has improved greatly through parent training programs and help from Easter Seals Midwest, a nonprofit organization that helps people with disabilities.
Lucas, whose parents say his two favorite things are firetrucks and Blues hockey, couldn’t stop smiling.
To learn more about Lucas’ story, click here.
The Blues have won four straight games against the Islanders and six of the last seven games between the teams. That includes last Saturday’s 6-4 win on Long Island, where the Blues overcame a three-goal deficit after one period.
The Blues are 8-3-1 against the Eastern Conference this season.
Shattenkirk has 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in 12 career games against New York-based teams.
Maxim Lapierre will play in his 100th game as a Blue tonight.
Oshie has a five-game point streak against the Islanders (three goals, six assists).