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Blues aim to get back on track vs. Blackhawks

by Brian Hedger

BLUES (52-18-7) AT BLACKHAWKS (44-19-15)


Last 10: St. Louis 6-4-0; Chicago 5-4-1

Season series: The St. Louis Blues won the first three games in the season series against the Chicago Blackhawks, all one-goal games and in shootouts. The Blackhawks won 4-0 in the most-recent game on March 19 at United Center.

Big story: Despite a 4-0 loss at home against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday, St. Louis (111 points) is two points back of the Boston Bruins in the chase for the Presidents' Trophy. The Blues have two games in hand on the Bruins.

Chicago is hoping to catch Colorado for second in the Central Division and is looking to beat the rival Blues for the second time in as many games.

Team Scope:

Blues: St. Louis has scored two or fewer goals in seven of the past 10 games and was shut out twice in that span, including 4-0 Saturday at Scottrade Center by the Avalanche.

That game featured a slew of penalties in the third period, when Colorado's victory was all but assured. The Blues will need to show more discipline in the postseason and hope to get things rolling again prior to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"We were more individuals [against Colorado] and that's not going to win you games," Blues defenseman Barret Jackman said. "We're not playing our best hockey, but it's something we can turn around [Sunday] in Chicago. I'm sure we'll talk about it [Saturday night] when we land and get things back on the right page."

Goaltender Brian Elliott will get the start for the Blues on Sunday.

Blackhawks: So far, so good in Chicago without elite forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, who are injured and out until the playoffs. Since Toews joined Kane on the sidelines, the Blackhawks have won back-to-back games at United Center against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday and Friday at the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Colorado's victory in St. Louis again put the Blackhawks three points back of the Avalanche for second in the Central, which provides home-ice advantage in the Western Conference's First Round. The Blackhawks have four games left and Colorado has five, so every point is critical.

"That'd be nice [to get home ice]," forward Ben Smith said. "The other goal is to be playing our best hockey as we move into the playoffs. Every win is big. Every point is big. Four games left now. We're excited for this week here, this push, and hopefully we'll be playing our best hockey going into the playoffs."

Who's hot: St. Louis center David Backes has four goals and three assists in his past seven games. ... Smith has scored goals in his past two games for Chicago, including the game-winner at the Blue Jackets with less than four seconds left in regulation.

Injury report: Jackman (lower body) returned Saturday against the Avalanche, but forward Alexander Steen (upper body) will not play Sunday. Forward Vladimir Tarasenko (hand) is also out. ... Chicago is playing without Toews (upper body) and Kane (lower body) for the rest of the regular season. Defenseman Johnny Oduya (lower body) has missed two straight games, but defenseman Michal Rozsival (lower body) returned Friday at Columbus. Goalie Nikolai Khabibulin is sidelined for the rest of the season after rotator cuff shoulder surgery.

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