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Blues open home-and-home series with Flames

by Tal Pinchevsky /
BLUES (28-24-9) at FLAMES (31-23-9)

TV -- FS-Midwest (HD), SNET-West (HD)

Last 10 --
St. Louis 5-4-1; Calgary 5-2-3

Season series --
This is the second of four meetings between the teams this season. In their first matchup, on Jan. 26, David Moss scored twice and added an assist to spearhead the Flames' 4-1 win in Calgary. The teams will conclude a home-and-home series on Tuesday before completing their season series on Apr 1.

Big story -- Calgary is looking to keep pace with a slew of Western Conference rivals currently in playoff contention. The Blues are hoping to shake off a recent slump and get back in the race.

The Flames began Saturday eighth in the West with 71 points, but it won't take much for Calgary to make a move in either direction. They were only four points behind fourth-place Phoenix but have a slight three-point cushion over 12th-place Columbus.

St. Louis, on the other hand, is on the brink of playoff exclusion. But a sudden surge could lift them into the playoff picture. Sitting only six points behind Calgary, this game could go a long way towards that post-season push.

Team Scope:

Blues -- St. Louis momentarily looked like a rejuvenated bunch on Feb. 19 when new arrivals Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk combined for three points in a one-sided 9-3 win over Anaheim. But the Blues proceeded to lose three straight after that coming-out party before topping Edmonton 5-0 on Friday.

Stewart had two goals against the Oilers to match his two-goal performance against the Ducks a week earlier. Ben Bishop made 39 saves for the shutout as St. Louis improved their record to 1-1-0 on their current three-game road swing that will see them visit the three Western Canada teams. In the trip opener in Vancouver, the Blues scored twice in 1:14 to pull even with the Canucks before Manny Malhotra's third-period goal proved the winner in a 3-2 Vancouver win.

Flames -- The Flames' recent three-game win streak was punctuated by a dominant 4-0 victory over Montreal in the Heritage Classic on Feb. 20. But Calgary has lost a couple of heartbreakers since the big outdoor win.

Following a tough 3-1 loss to Boston on Tuesday, the Flames blew a 3-2 lead against the Sharks when Ryan Clowe scored with 2:34 remaining in regulation. From there, Calgary couldn't solve Sharks' goaltender Antti Niemi, ultimately losing 4-3 in the shootout.

"We let them take the game to us in the last 10 minutes," coach Brent Sutter said. "They were skating and moving and we were standing and watching."

Who's hot -- Stewart has been a revelation since arriving in St. Louis, scoring 6 goals in the five games he has played with the Blues. His teammate, Patrik Berglund, has 20 points in his last 19 games. … For Calgary, Alex Tanguay has 4 points in his current three-game point streak while teammate Olli Jokinen has 13 points in his last nine games.

Injury report --
David Perron (concussion) and Jaroslav Halak (hand) remain on IR for the Blues, while Nikita Nikitin appears ready to return from a lower-body injury. … Flames forward Tim Jackman was hurt in a fight against Clowe and isn't expected to play, while Adam Pardy (shoulder), Daymond Langkow (neck), and Raitis Ivanans (concussion) are on IR.

Stat pack -- Stewart's 6 goals are the best start in Blues history. Even Brett Hull, who has been immortalized with a statue outside Scottrade Center, scored "only" 5 goals in his first five games with the Blues.

Puck drop -- Blues coach Davis Payne and Sutter took wildly divergent paths to the NHL's coaching fraternity. As players, Sutter appeared in 1,111 NHL games while Payne played sparingly in 22 NHL games in a career that included 11 games with the New Jersey Rockin' Rollers of the Roller Hockey International league.

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