A coaching change has turned around the Chicago Blackhawks' season. After a slow start, the St. Louis Blues are starting to experience the same thing.
St. Louis will try to match its longest winning streak this season, and continue its recent resurgence at home when they meet the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday in the start of two straight games at Scottrade Center.
The Blues (12-19-7) lost their first three games under new coach Andy Murray after he took over for the fired Mike Kitchen on Dec. 11. Since the skid, though, St. Louis has won six of seven with the only loss coming in a shootout at Central Division-leading Nashville.
St. Louis completed a home-and-home sweep of Colorado with its third straight home victory, 2-0 on Saturday. Manny Legace made 33 saves and has a 1.47 goals-against average in his last six games.
"Goaltending is all confidence," said Legace, who's 1-1-0 with a 2.66 GAA in two starts against Chicago (16-17-5) this season. "And when you're having confidence in the guys around you, your confidence grows."
Keith Tkachuk and Lee Stempniak scored power-play goals to back Legace's 14th career shutout. St. Louis has scored five man-advantage goals in 13 opportunities over its last two wins.
Tkachuk will try to extend his goal-scoring streak to three games for the first time since he tallied seven in a five-game run from Dec. 1-13, 2005. He's second on the team with 26 points, one behind Bill Guerin,
The Blues have scored a league-low 91 goals this season, but has 13 in five games against the Blackhawks in 2006-07.
Chicago is 9-5-3 under new coach Denis Savard, but is trying to avoid losing three straight since he took over for Trent Yawney on Nov. 27.
The Blackhawks got a first-period goal from Martin Lapointe, but goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin gave up second-period tallies to Sergei Federov and Manny Malhotra in a 3-1 loss to Columbus on Sunday.
"We needed chances and didn't go to the net," Lapointe said. "We just need to get back to basics and go from there."
It hasn't helped that leading scorer Martin Havlat has been held without a goal in the last five games. Havlat missed 19 games earlier this season with a sprained ankle, but came back on an impressive tear, scoring five goals and adding five assists in the first seven games.
Havlat leads the team with 12 goals and is tied with Bryan Smolinski for the team lead with 25 points. Havlat had two goals in a 4-3 loss to St. Louis on Oct. 14.
With 37 points, Chicago is four points behind Vancouver for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. St. Louis is last in the West, but has 31 points.
The Blues and Blackhawks will meet again on Thursday in St. Louis.