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Blues-Blackhawks Preview

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GAME: St. Louis Blues (20-38-12) at Chicago Blackhawks (21-38-11).

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

In a season filled with dreadful moments for the St. Louis Blues, forward Keith Tkachuk believes the team is currently playing its worst hockey.

St. Louis looks to end a seven-game losing streak when it visits the Chicago Blackhawks in a meeting of the worst teams in the Western Conference.

The Blues lost to the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 on Monday, completing a winless four-game homestand during which they were outscored 20-5.

"This homestand is probably the most embarrassing in my career," Tkachuk said. "I don't like what I see. I know I always say I've got to be a lot better. Our better players have got to rise to the occasion and lead."

Tkachuk has a rating of minus-8 during the seven-game skid and has one goal in his last 13 games.

St. Louis had only two losing streaks of seven consecutive games in the franchise's 38-year history, but it has lost at least seven straight three times this season, including an 11-game slide from Oct. 20-Nov. 12.

Petr Cajanek scored against Detroit, and has scored in two straight games. Cajanek has a six-game point streak against the Blackhawks, with two goals and seven assists in that span.

Goaltender Patrick Lalime is 0-5-1 with a 4.01 goals-against average since becoming the starter in place of the injured Curtis Sanford, who strained his left knee on March 13.

While the Blues will miss the playoffs for the first time in 26 seasons, the Blackhawks will fail to qualify for the seventh time in eight seasons.

Chicago has lost five straight, halfway to its longest skid of the season. A 10-game losing streak from Dec. 18-Jan. 8 was the franchise's longest since the club-record 12-game slide to close the 1950-51 season.

The Blackhawks are coming off a 5-4 overtime loss to San Jose on Sunday, and have lost eight of nine.

Radim Vrbata had two goals and two assists for the first four-point game of his career, while Kyle Calder sent the game into overtime with a power-play goal with 1:12 left in regulation.

Calder scored for the third straight game and is riding a six-game point streak.

Goalie Nikolai Khabibulin is 1-4-2 with a 3.61 GAA since missing 12 games with a sprained left knee, but has won two of his last three games against the Blues while posting a 1.88 GAA.

STANDINGS: Blues - 52 points, 5th place, 53 PB, Central Division. Blackhawks - 53 points, 4th place, 52 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Blues - Scott Young, 17 goals and 46 points; Young and Cajanek, 29 assists; Jamal Mayers, 112 PIM. Blackhawks - Mark Bell, 22 goals; Calder, 31 assists and 50 points; Matthew Barnaby, 159 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Blues - Power play: 15.3 percent (69 for 452), 26th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.9 percent (335 for 409), 17th. Blackhawks - Power play: 12.5 percent (45 for 359), 30th. Penalty killing: 83.7 percent (406 for 485), 11th.

GOALTENDERS: Blues - Lalime (4-16-7, 0 SO, 3.70 GAA); Reinhard Divis (0-4-0, 5.26). Blackhawks - Khabibulin (13-22-5, 3.37); Craig Anderson (5-11-3, 1, 3.41).

SEASON SERIES: 3-3.

LAST MEETING: Feb. 2; Blues, 6-5 (SO). At St. Louis, rookie Lee Stempniak scored two goals and had the game-winner in the shootout.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blues - 9-20-6 on the road; Blackhawks - 12-18-5 at home.

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