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Blackhawks-Blues Preview

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Blackhawks-Blues Preview

GAME: Chicago Blackhawks (5-10-0) at St. Louis Blues (2-10-3).

TIME: Thursday, 8 p.m. EST.

Facing one of the two teams they have beat this season, the St. Louis Blues hope to end their franchise-record nine-game losing streak when they host the Chicago Blackhawks.

St. Louis continued its skid with a 3-1 loss at Columbus Wednesday. Rookie Lee Stempniak provided all the offense for the Blues with a power-play goal in the final minute.

Outscored 42-23 during their nine-game skid (0-6-3), the Blues dropped to 0-4-2 on the road with Wednesday's defeat. They haven't been much better at home, getting outscored 20-10 in four straight losses at the Savvis Center.

"We've hit rock bottom," said Blues forward Mike Sillinger, who had his four-game points streak snapped. "We have a team that's been struggling here for the last 10 or 12 games. We've got to keep working hard. The easy thing to do now is obviously to start pointing fingers. I think everybody just needs to take a deep breath and look at themselves."

St. Louis has allowed 65 goals this season. Only Washington (66) and Pittsburgh (70) have surrendered more.

"We're very frustrated right now," Blues coach Mike Kitchen said. "We're not a very confident club. That goes right to your hands and your legs, when you're not confident. That's something we have to get by. That's where you have to work your way out of this thing we are in now."

One of the Blues' losses during the skid was a 6-5 defeat in overtime to the visiting Blackhawks on Nov. 2. St. Louis rallied from a three-goal deficit to force overtime, but Blackhawks rookie Brent Seabrook scored his first NHL goal 35 seconds into the extra period.

Seabrook also scored in overtime against Phoenix on Sunday, lifting Chicago to a 2-1 victory.

"He's got great hockey sense," Blackhawks coach Trent Yawney said. "He's seeing the ice as well as probably any young player on defense in the game right now."

Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 28 shots for Chicago, which rebounded from a 9-1 loss at Dallas on Friday to win for the second time in three games.

Khabibulin has one of his best games of the season Sunday, performing the way the Blackhawks envisioned when they signed him to a big free-agent deal in the summer.

"(Khabibulin) deserves a lot of credit," Yawney said. "He's a world class player and also a great man. He's had a tough go, the stars haven't aligned for him. Tonight he really competed and really battled."

STANDINGS (through Nov. 9): Blackhawks - 10 points, 3rd place (tied), 19 PB, Central Division. Blues - 7 points, 5th place, 22 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Blackhawks - Pavel Vorobiev, 6 goals and 15 points; Vorobiev and Tyler Arnason, 9 assists; Matthew Barnaby, 36 PIM. Blues - Jamal Mayers, 6 goals; Petr Cajanek, 13 assists and 15 points; Eric Brewer, 33 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 9): Blackhawks - Power play: 14.5 percent (15 for 103), 22nd in NHL. Penalty killing: 78.0 percent (96 for 123), 26th (tied). Blues - Power play: 15.5 percent (16 for 103), 21st. Penalty killing: 79.5 percent (78 for 98), 24th.

GOALTENDERS: Blackhawks - Khabibulin (4-9-0, 0 SO, 3.83 GAA); Craig Anderson (1-1-0, 5.12). Blues - Patrick Lalime (2-8-3, 3.91); Reinhard Divis (0-2-0, 5.39).

SEASON SERIES: Tied, 1-1.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 2; Blackhawks, 6-5, (OT). At St. Louis, Martin Lapointe had a goal and two assists for the Blackhawks in a penalty-filled game. Chicago went 3-for-12 on the power play while the Blues were 3-for-11.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blackhawks - 2-7-0 on the road; Blues - 2-6-1 at home.


Associated Press

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