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Blackhawks-Blues Preview

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Blackhawks-Blues Preview

GAME: Chicago Blackhawks (17-28-6) at St. Louis Blues (12-31-8).

TIME: Thursday, 8 p.m. EST.

Life without point leaders Doug Weight and Mike Sillinger is off to a respectable start for the St. Louis Blues.

After strong showings against the Calgary Flames and Detroit Red Wings, the Blues host the Chicago Blackhawks in their third game without Weight and Sillinger.

Weight, who led the Blues with 33 assists and 44 points, was dealt to the Carolina Hurricanes Monday, in exchange for inexperienced NHL forwards Jesse Boulerice and Mike Zigomanis, unsigned prospect Magnus Kahnberg and three draft picks.

On Monday, the Blues also dealt Sillinger, with a team-leading 22 goals and 41 points, to the Nashville Predators for 22-year-old wing Timofei Shishkanov. Sillinger departed with a seven-game goal-scoring streak that produced eight goals.

The Blues, who defeated the Flames 3-2 on Monday, nearly claimed another two points before losing 3-2 Wednesday to the Detroit Red Wings. Lee Stempniak, a recent call-up, scored for the second straight game, but St. Louis was unable to protect its lead in the third period.

"You've got to give their guys credit," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "A bunch of young kids, you know they're going to work hard."

The Blues also are without right wing Jamal Mayers, who is out six to eight weeks after breaking his foot in Monday's win over the Flames. His 10 goals rank fourth on the team.

Although the Blues regained the services of Keith Tkachuk, who returned from a fractured hand and scored the Blues' other goal Wednesday, the trades suggest the Blues are giving up on their season and their 25-year streak of reaching the playoffs.

In the Western Conference, only the Blues have fewer points than the Blackhawks, who also have little chance of securing a playoff berth.

The Blackhawks have won just two of their last seven games. They have scored only 15 in that span, though they are coming off a split of two home games against Calgary.

After a 2-0 shutout of the Flames Thursday, the Blackhawks yielded three power-play goals in a 5-3 defeat Sunday.

"They made some pretty good shots," said Blackhawks goaltender Adam Munro, who had 26 saves in Thursday's shutout.

"They seemed to take advantage of their power plays and they've obviously got a good power play and they showed us what it was like."

While the Blackhawks allowed three power-play goals in Thursday's loss, they have scored only three power-play goals in their last seven games, covering 28 opportunities.

STANDINGS: Blackhawks - 40 points, 4th place, 35 PB, Central Division. Blues - 32 points, 5th place, 43 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Blackhawks - Mark Bell, 18 goals; Tyler Arnason, 24 assists and 35 points; Matthew Barnaby, 123 PIM. Blues - Dean McAmmond, 14 goals; Petr Cajanek, 24 assists; Scott Young, 32 points; Barret Jackman, 101 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Blackhawks - Power play: 13.0 percent (36 for 277), 30th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.6 percent (314 for 371), 6th. Blues - Power play: 15.3 percent (52 for 340), 25th. Penalty killing: 80.8 percent (249 for 308), 21st.

GOALTENDERS: Blackhawks - Munro (3-2-2, 1 SO, 2.37 GAA); Corey Crawford (0-0-0, 0, 0.00). Blues - Curtis Sanford (6-12-4, 3, 2.81); Patrick Lalime (3-11-4, 0, 3.97).

SEASON SERIES: Blackhawks, 3-2.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 28; Blues, 2-1. At Chicago, Eric Brewer and Dallas Drake scored first-period goals for the Blues. Sanford had a shutout until Kyle Calder scored with 4:32 to play for the Blackhawks.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blackhawks - 7-15-3 on the road; Blues - 7-15-3 at home.


Associated Press

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