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Need to Know: Bruins at Blues

Backes makes return to St. Louis

by Christopher Weyant @NHLBruins / BostonBruins.com

BostonBruins.com - The Bruins dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to the Hurricanes on Sunday night, salvaging a point with a third-period comeback. Though the B's back-to-back stint against Florida and Carolina ended on a sour note, the team can take solace in taking three of a possible four points over the weekend.

The B's next stop on their four-game road trip takes them to the Gateway City, where they are prepping for a Tuesday night matchup with the St. Louis Blues.

Tuesday's game will be the second of two matchups this season between the Bruins and Blues. The Blues won the first contest on November 22 at TD Garden, 4-2.

Puck drop is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. EST on NESN and 98.5 The Sports Hub.

Here is what you need to know:

Back-es in the Mix

David Backes, who scored a goal in each game over the weekend during a return from a concussion, will be welcomed with open arms in St. Louis on Tuesday night. Backes spent his first ten NHL seasons with the Blues organization before signing a five-year, $30 million contract with the Bruins during the offseason.

While Backes will enjoy his homecoming and reconnect with familiar faces at Scottrade Center, the now Bruins forward knows he will have to manage his emotions with a valuable two points on the line.

Prior to their first matchup in Boston, Backes mused on facing his former team.

"There are a lot of good people over there and a lot of good friends, but we're wearing different jerseys tonight," said Backes. "I think they're well aware, and I'm well aware there are going to be no punches pulled."

Staggered reinforcements arrived for the B's with the return of Backes on Saturday in Florida, and defenseman John-Michael Liles in Carolina on Sunday. Liles was excited to get back into the mix and compete after missing six weeks with a concussion.

"I felt pretty good as the game went along," said Liles. "It felt good to be back out on the ice and making some plays with the guys."

Opposing View

The Blues (21-14-5, 47 points), who have been an up-and-down team as of late, are hoping to build momentum from a 4-3 home victory against the Dallas Stars on Saturday night. St. Louis currently holds the third place slot in the Central Division, with a six-point lead over the Nashville Predators.

Coach Ken Hitchcock leads a bruising and physical Blues team with heavy and aggressive forwards, playing with the identity Backes instilled in St. Louis for a decade.

Vladimir Tarasenko leads the above-average offensive attack for the Blues, having tallied 43 points (20 goals and 23 assists in 40 games), tied for fourth in the NHL with Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin.

The Blues' blue line is led by Alex Pietrangelo, who has logged an average of 25 minutes per game this season. Joined by former Boston University defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, St. Louis is a team with defensemen capable of moving the puck swiftly and creating offensive opportunities.

Jake Allen, who became a father after the birth of his daughter on Friday, will likely be in net on Tuesday. Allen stymied the Bruins back in November, stopping 39 of 41 shots on goal in the Blues' 4-2 victory.

St. Louis finds themselves among the top of the league in special teams, ranking 6th on the power play (21.9%) and 5th on the penalty kill (85.8%).

The Blues rank tied for 8th in scoring (2.83 goals per game) and 23rd in goals allowed (2.93 goals per game).

Wait, There's More

  • The Bruins killed one penalty against the Hurricanes on Sunday night, improving their penalty kill success rate to 88.0%, good for a share of the league lead with Carolina.
  • Tuesday will mark the 133rd meeting between the Bruins and the Blues. The B's hold a 63-42-18-9 career advantage over St. Louis, outscoring them by a score of 482-392.
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