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Blues-Panthers Preview @NHLdotcom
Blues-Panthers Preview

GAME: St. Louis Blues (10-25-5) at Florida Panthers (17-22-6).

TIME: Thursday, 7 p.m. EST.

St. Louis owns an NHL-worst 25 points this season and has lost two straight to open its five-game road trip. The Blues, though, are probably happy to see the Panthers next up on their schedule.

St. Louis looks to continue its dominance of Florida when the teams meet at BankAtlantic Center.

The Blues have lost only three times in 18 matchups between the teams since Florida entered the NHL in 1993. The Panthers have dropped four straight in the series since a 3-0 win on Feb. 19, 2001.

St. Louis has been outscored 12-1 in losing its last three road games, and fell to 5-12-2 away from home this season with a 6-1 defeat to Colorado on Monday.

The Blues have lost three straight overall and are 1-for-14 on the power play over that span. St. Louis went 0-for-7 with the man advantage against the Avalanche.

"There are times we seem to be turning the corner," St. Louis center Doug Weight said. "Then we play games like this where we were down right embarrassing."

The Blues are averaging 2.1 goals per game on the road and haven't scored more than two goals in their last five games away from home, including two shutouts.

"It's frustrating not just for myself but for the whole team," goalie Jason Bacashihua said. "We need goals to win games and we haven't been able to do that on the road. We have to find a way to do that."

Florida concluded a season-high five-game road trip with a 2-2-1 mark following a 4-3 shootout win over Washington on Sunday.

"It was a must-win for us, obviously," said Panthers center Olli Jokinen, who scored twice. "I guess we have to be satisfied - we played .500. But at this point in the year, it's not going to be enough for us."

Florida learned this week that center Stephen Weiss is likely out for the rest of the regular season with a torn ligament in his left wrist.

Weiss, the fourth overall pick in the 2001 draft, had been scratched from the last four games.

"It was sore for about two months," said Weiss, fourth on the team in scoring with nine goals and 12 assists. "I was playing until I couldn't play anymore."

STANDINGS: Blues - 25 points, 5th place, 34 PB, Central Division. Panthers - 40 points, 4th place, 20 PB, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Blues - Mike Sillinger, 14 goals; Weight, 27 assists and 36 points; Jamal Mayers, 88 PIM. Panthers - Jokinen, 20 goals, 26 assists and 46 points; Chris Gratton, 61 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Blues - Power play: 14.6 percent (40 for 273), 26th in NHL. Penalty killing: 80.5 percent (198 for 246), 24th. Panthers - Power play: 15.6 percent (36 for 230), 23rd. Penalty killing: 82.8 percent (235 for 284), 12th.

GOALTENDERS: Blues - Curtis Sanford (4-7-1, 2 SO, 2.76 GAA); Bacashihua (3-4-0, 3.95). Panthers - Roberto Luongo (17-18-6, 2, 3.04); Jamie McLennan (0-4-0, 3.10).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Blues, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 19, 2004; Blues 2-1, OT. At Sunrise, Fla., Pavol Demitra, now with Los Angeles, scored a breakaway goal in overtime to lift St. Louis.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blues - 5-12-2 on the road; Panthers - 12-6-2 at home.

Associated Press
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