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Blues-Blackhawks Preview @NHLdotcom
Blues-Blackhawks Preview

GAME: St. Louis Blues (6-17-4) at Chicago Blackhawks (12-16-2).

TIME: Friday, 8:30 p.m. EST.

Keith Tkachuk is making up for lost time.

St. Louis' veteran winger looks to match his career-best goal-scoring streak when the Blues visit the Chicago Blackhawks.

Tkachuk has scored a goal in five straight games, including one in Tuesday's 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. He has recorded 15 points in his last seven contests since missing 15 straight games with a rib injury.

"Points don't matter to me," said Tkachuk, who has scored a goal in six consecutive games twice previously in his career. "Giving my team a chance to win, that's all that matters to me."

Tkachuk, who has been in nine games this season, played in just two of the Blues' first five games without recording a point. He had recorded three points four straight games entering Tuesday.

Tkachuk had 33 goals and 38 assists last season. He had a career-best 52 goals in 1996-96 for Phoenix, and a career-high 48 assists the year before with the same franchise, then located in Winnipeg.

Curtis Sanford stopped 21 shots for his second shutout of the season Tuesday as the Blues ended a three-game losing streak. Sanford has three shutouts in 16 career NHL games.

"It's nice just to get the two points," said Sanford, who was making his first start since Nov. 26. "Never mind the shutout."

Goalie Patrick Lalime cleared waivers Tuesday and was assigned to Peoria of the American Hockey League. St. Louis recalled goalie Jason Bacashihua to take his roster spot.

The Blackhawks lost their second straight and fourth in six games Thursday, falling 5-3 to the Nashville Predators. Chicago entered the game ranked 27th in the league with 79 goals. The Blackhawks rank 23rd with 101 goals allowed.

The Blackhawks' power play has been part of the problem. Chicago entered the night tied for 26th in the league, converting just 14.7 percent of its chances on the man advantage, and went scoreless in nine opportunities on the power play Thursday.

"When we did generate chances they made a couple of good saves," coach Trent Yawney said. "We definitely have to be better. It has to come from within. We have to be smarter with the puck."

The Blues were also tied for 26th in the league in power-play percentage entering Thursday's games.

STANDINGS (through Dec. 15): Blues - 16 points, 5th place, 29 PB, Central Division. Blackhawks - 26 points, 3rd place, 19 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Blues - Mike Sillinger and Dean McAmmond, 9 goals; Doug Weight, 17 assists and 23 points; Jamal Mayers, 53 PIM. Blackhawks - Mark Bell, 12 goals; Tyler Arnason, 16 assists and 24 points; Matthew Barnaby, 70 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 15): Blues - Power play: 14.7 percent (29 for 197), 26th (tied) in NHL. Penalty killing: 80.9 percent (140 for 173), 24th. Blackhawks - Power play: 14.7 percent (25 for 170), 26th (tied). Penalty killing: 83.5 percent (193 for 231), 10th.

GOALTENDERS: Blues - Sanford (3-4-0, 2 SO, 2.89 GAA); Bacashihua (no appearances). Blackhawks - Nikolai Khabibulin (10-14-1, 0, 3.28); Craig Anderson (2-2-1, 4.15).

SEASON SERIES: Blackhawks, 2-1.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 10; Blackhawks, 4-2. At St. Louis, Jim Vandermeer scored two goals, including one tapped in by Blues forward Mark Rycroft, in the 10th loss during St. Louis' franchise-record 11-game losing streak.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blues - 2-7-2 on the road; Blackhawks - 6-4-0 at home.

Associated Press
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