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Blues hope to bounce back, host rival Blackhawks

by Louie Korac

BLACKHAWKS (32-18-2) at BLUES (34-14-4)

TV: NBC, SN360

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues were riding high with a franchise-record 13-game point streak when they played the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday.

But a 7-1 defeat in Columbus sent that streak crumbing down and leaving the Blues (34-14-4) left to begin anew.

And even though the Blues were 12-0-1 prior to the loss Friday, there were similarities in their game the previous few games that culminated with Friday's loss and concerned coach Ken Hitchcock.

"Same stuff. Poor puck management and the five-man group ... the gaps are too big, poor puck management leads to turnovers, leads to improper spacing between your forwards and your D's and then there's gaps in your games," Hitchcock said. "Same stuff that we had earlier in the year.

"We've got to figure out a way to grab it quickly without practicing. We grabbed it before because we had a ton of practices. We played a little bit, practiced a lot, got it back. That's what we need to do, but we've got to do it without practicing right now."

The Blues are in the middle of playing nine games in 15 days, including Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks [12:30 p.m. ET; NBC, SN360].

Perhaps the best way to start new? Throw away the game tape from the Friday debacle.

"Throwing away that tape might be the best thing, but I think you can learn from any time," defenseman Ian Cole said. "Any type of material you can get on tape, you can always learn something. That being said at the same time, we're right back at it, it's not a long break, we're playing a good team, we know how to play, we've obviously played very well throughout the course of the year, throughout the course of these last 13 games or 14 games, so it's not like we don't know how to do it. It's not like you need a visual reminder. Everyone knows what they're doing, everyone knows how to be successful. It's just a matter of doing it."

The Blackhawks (32-18-2) are coming off a 2-1 victory against the Winnipeg Jets on Friday that ended a two-game losing streak. The Blues are Blackhawks are currently in second and third place respectively in the Central Division. Chicago trails St. Louis by six points; the Blues are two points behind the Nashville Predators.

"[The Blackhawks] came out of the break playing OK, we came out of the break playing OK, but I think both teams feel they probably can play a little bit better than they've played," Hitchcock said. "I know we do, and I'm sure they do too. They didn't play well against Minnesota, came back and had a gritty effort against a good team in Winnipeg. We've gotten points with probably not playing our best hockey and then we kind of got it tilted to us a little bit [Friday]."

Here are the projected lineups:

BLACKHAWKS

Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Patrick Sharp - Brad Richards - Patrick Kane

Bryan Bickell - Andrew Shaw - Teuvo Teravainen

Daniel Carcillo - Marcus Kruger - Ben Smith

Duncan Keith - David Rundblad

Niklas Hjalmarsson - Brent Seabrook

Michal Rozsival - Johnny Oduya

Corey Crawford

Antti Raanta

Scratched: Tim Erixon, Joakim Nordstrom

Injured: Kris Versteeg (hand), Trevor van Riemsdyk (patella fracture)

BLUES

Alexander Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie

Jaden Schwartz - Paul Stastny - Vladimir Tarasenko

Dmitrij Jaskin - Patrik Berglund - Joakim Lindstrom/Ty Rattie

Steve Ott - Marcel Goc - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson - Chris Butler

Barret Jackman - Ian Cole

Brian Elliott

Jake Allen

Scratched: Joakim Lindstrom/Ty Rattie

Injured: Kevin Shattenkirk (abdomen), Jori Lehtera (concussion symptoms), Chris Porter (ankle)

Status report: Lindstrom or Rattie will play on the third line at right wing. ... Hitchcock said Lehtera is close and there was thought the center would return, Sunday but the coach said Saturday he won't play. He's missed the past five games. ... Porter has missed 16 games and began practicing last week. He's close to returning to full-time practice. ... Quenneville said Saturday Carcillo will remain in the lineup, which means Nordstrom is expected to be a healthy scratch.

Who's hot: Schwartz has seven points (four goals, three assists) in the past seven games. ... Stastny has a four-game point streak and has six points (five assists) in the past six games. ... Kane has six goals and 11 points the past eight games. ... Sharp has seven points (six assists) the past five games.

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