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Blues look for better defense against Flames

by Corey Masisak

BLUES (7-5-1) at FLAMES (4-4-3)


Last 10: St. Louis 5-4-1; Calgary 4-3-3

Season series: This is the first meeting. The St. Louis Blues won three of the four in 2011-12, and the Calgary Flames scored a total of six goals.

Big story: Can the surprisingly defense-deficient Blues slow down a Flames offense that scored seven times Tuesday night?

Team scope:

Blues: After a 6-1-0 start, St. Louis dropped five straight games before an overtime victory at the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday. The Blues have been uncharacteristically sloppy in the defensive end, and the goaltenders have not met expectations after Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott were a dynamite tandem last season.

Halak was injured, set to come back, then had a setback. Elliott had a bad series against the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Playoffs after Halak was injured then, and hasn't been able to find his 2011-12 regular-season form. St. Louis looked better at Joe Louis Arena, in the first of a three-game road trip, after allowing 25 goals in the previous five contests.

"I think we got scared into the right direction," said Alexander Steen, who scored in overtime. "I think that fear made us play hockey."

Flames: After a rough January, the start to February has been more kind to Calgary. The Flames are 3-1-2 this month, including a win at Detroit and a 7-4 victory against the Dallas Stars at home Tuesday. Calgary now has four players with at least four goals, but one of them isn't captain Jarome Iginla. He's been held to one so far, but he did have two assists in the victory against the Stars.

Mike Cammalleri returned after missing three games and had a hat trick, and five players had multiple points. Starting goalie Miikka Kiprusoff is out with a knee injury, and Leland Irving won for the third time in 11 career NHL starts.

"As a group you want to build on something like this," Cammalleri said. "We're capable of breaking games when we want to."

Who's hot: Steen has goals in three straight games and points in four consecutive for the Blues. … Flames forwards Jiri Hudler and Lee Stempniak each have four points in the past four games.

Injury report: Halak (groin) remains out. St. Louis also is without forward Jamie Langenbrunner (hip), who is out for the season. … Kiprusoff is joined on the injured list by center Mikael Backlund (knee) and rookie wing Sven Baertschi (hip). Forward Lance Bouma (knee) is out for the season.

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