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Blues begin homestand against Blackhawks

by Corey Masisak

BLACKHAWKS (31-5-4) at BLUES (23-15-2)


Last 10: Chicago 7-2-1; St. Louis 6-4-0

Season series: The Chicago Blackhawks won the first two meetings of the season in January before the St. Louis Blues snared a shootout victory April 4. These teams also meet again on the final day of the regular season (April 27).

Big story: The Blues need this one far more than the Blackhawks, as goaltender Brian Elliot looks to continue his shutout streak and help St. Louis reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Team scope:

Blackhawks: Chicago had lost three of four before a Sunday game two weeks ago at Detroit. The Blackhawks won that game 7-1, and now have at least one point in seven straight contests (6-0-1).

The Blackhawks held a seven-point lead on the Anaheim Ducks for the top seed in the Western Conference and a four-point advantage on the Pittsburgh Penguins for the Presidents' Trophy. Chicago also has a game in hand on both.

Blues: St. Louis lost four of five to close the month of March and the Blues appeared to be slipping from their place inside the top eight in the West. They rolled off six straight victories to start April though, and given the bunched-up nature of the standings were making a push for the fourth seed. They are still five points ahead of the teams tied for ninth place after a loss to Columbus on Friday, but even short losing streaks can cause serious damage at this point.

Elliott will back in net for the Blues after taking a night off. He had three straight shutouts before that, and his shutout streak is currently at 189 minutes and 31 seconds.

Who's hot: St. Louis isn't the only team with a hot goaltender in this contest. Ray Emery is 15-1-0 this season for the Blackhawks, including three shutouts in his past five starts. Elliott hasn't allowed a goal since the third period of a 4-3 shootout victory April 4 against these Blackhawks. He's turned aside 66 shots in the past three games.

Injury report: Chicago coach Joel Quenneville told reporters he is "hopeful" center Dave Bolland can return against the Blues after missing the past four games with a lower-body injury. St. Louis will be without goaltender Jaroslav Halak (groin), while forwards T.J. Oshie (foot) and Scott Nichol (lower body) are questionable.

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