Behind an improving offense and the tireless effort of Manny Legace, the St. Louis Blues are refocused on reaching the postseason for the first time since 2003-04.
The Blues look to keep their surge going and continue their recent domination of the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night in the opener of a three-game western road trip.
St. Louis (28-22-9) is coming off back-to-back 5-1 victories at home, beating Columbus on Sunday and Chicago on Tuesday. The Blues are 4-0-1 since losing four in a row and 11 of 13.
The Blues, who have failed to make the playoffs the last two seasons after qualifying in 25 straight years, are just three points back of the eighth and final postseason berth in a crowded Western Conference race.
"We're still not at that point, but we're clawing our way back," defenseman Eric Brewer said.
|The Blues are 4-0-1 since losing four in a row and 11 of 13 and look to keep their streak going at Los Angeles tonight. St. Louis is currently three points back of the final Western Conference playoff spot. (AP Photo/Bill Boyce)
Despite being near the bottom of the NHL with 157 goals and a 14.4 power-play percentage, St. Louis has been about as good in the offensive end lately as Legace has been in net. The veteran goaltender has stopped 167 of the 175 shots he's faced in his last six starts.
The Blues have outscored their opponents 19-7 in the last five games, and are 6-for-13 with the man advantage in their last two contests.
"I don't know what the difference is," said St. Louis coach Andy Murray, whose team now must play three road games in four nights. "We're not doing anything different, we're not teaching anything different.
"Pucks are just going in for us right now."
Fourteen different St. Louis players have scored in the last five games. On Tuesday, Keith Tkachuk had two assists and scored for the second straight game, as did Brad Boyes, who leads the team with 32 goals.
The Blues haven't had any problems offensively against the Kings lately, scoring 23 goals in winning the last five meetings. The teams' two matchups this season have seen St. Louis win 5-3 in Los Angeles on Oct. 6 and 4-2 at home on Feb. 12.
Legace is likely to be in goal Thursday as the Blues expect to lean on the All-Star down the stretch. He made 19 saves in his 17th straight appearance Tuesday after making 18 Sunday.
"That's what our plan is," Murray said of Legace's use. "What we've been doing is managing the energy levels of our team, particularly Manny, between these games. We're trying to have our energy for the games."
The 35-year-old Legace, who has appeared in 48 games and is three shy of matching his career high from 2005-06 while with Detroit, has a 1.40 goals-against over the last five games.
He's had little trouble with the Kings in his career, going 10-1-0 with a tie and a 2.58 GAA.
Los Angeles (25-34-3) looks to avoid a third straight loss after falling 4-0 to Phoenix on Monday to be swept in a home-and-home series with the Coyotes.
"It was a disappointing effort," Kings coach Marc Crawford said. "I don't think we battled with the type of intensity that you need to battle with."
The Kings, who have lost four of their last six games, have the fewest points in the NHL with 53.
Alexander Frolov, the team's second-leading scorer, failed to record a point Monday after posting two goals and three assists in his previous three games. He had a goal in the Kings' most recent loss to St. Louis.