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Blues searching for offense, keep lineup intact at Jets

by Patrick Williams

BLUES (17-10-4) at JETS (14-14-2)


WINNIPEG -- The St. Louis Blues will stick with their lineup when they visit the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre on Tuesday.

The Blues, who are in the middle of a stretch of nine of 11 games on the road, have struggled to score lately. During a 2-3-0 homestand, they averaged 2.2 goals per game and managed one goal on 43 shots in a 3-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock will again turn to goaltender Jake Allen, who will start for the third game in a row. Allen will face rookie goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, making his third consecutive start for the Jets.

Hitchcock is happy with his lineup, even if the wins have not followed lately.

"I would say that in the past week to 10 days, we've started to really play well," Hitchcock said. "They say that the first sign of winning on a regular basis is to play well, and that is what we have done. There are a lot of elements in the [Blues'] game that [I] really like."

The Blues and Jets always bring out each other's physical sides. They have combined for 98 hits in their past two games.

"If you've got the puck, you're expecting to be hit," Blues captain David Backes said. "If they've got the puck, you're expecting to track them down and find a way to get a body on them. I think it readies you when you know it's going to come, and it gets everybody into the right mindset to play good hockey.

"It gets you on the right track to play the right way [in subsequent games]."

Jets coach Paul Maurice shuffled his defensive pairings. Jacob Trouba will slide into a new pairing with Dustin Byfuglien and skate on the left side. Mark Stuart will partner with Ben Chiarot.

Winnipeg is 3-9-0 against the Central Division and has one win against the division since Oct. 29.

"There has to be [a sense of urgency]," Jets forward Blake Wheeler said. "We haven't gotten the job done within our own division."

Winnipeg's inconsistent power play is 24th in the NHL and faces the League's top-ranked penalty kill. The Jets are stuck in a 3-for-22 power-play slump.

"So much of everything that we do is confidence," Maurice said. "When you're a confident power-play group with your best players, that puck moves [more quickly], everything is sharper."

Here are the projected lineups:


Magnus Paajarvi - Paul Stastny - Vladimir Tarasenko

Alexander Steen - David Backes - Troy Brouwer

Dmitrij Jaskin - Jori Lehtera - Robby Fabbri

Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Petteri Lindbohm - Kevin Shattenkirk

Carl Gunnarsson - Colton Parayko

Jake Allen

Brian Elliott

Injured: Patrik Berglund (shoulder), Steve Ott (hamstring), Jaden Schwartz (ankle)

Scratched: Robert Bortuzzo, Scott Gomez


Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler

Mathieu Perreault - Mark Scheifele - Drew Stafford

Chris Thorburn - Alexander Burmistrov - Nikolaj Ehlers

Adam Lowry - Andrew Copp - Anthony Peluso

Jacob Trouba - Dustin Byfuglien

Toby Enstrom - Tyler Myers

Mark Stuart - Ben Chiarot

Connor Hellebuyck

Michael Hutchinson

Injured: Grant Clitsome (back), Ondrej Pavelec (knee)

Scratched: Adam Pardy, Paul Postma

Status report: Berglund participated in the morning skate. He has not played since having offseason shoulder surgery.

Who's hot: Backes (three goals, two assists) and Shattenkirk (one goal, four assists) each has a four-game point streak…St. Louis has not allowed a power-play goal in the past eight games (19-for-19).

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