PANTHERS (3-7-1) at BLUES (5-5-1)
Last 10 --
Florida 2-7-1; St. Louis 4-5-1
Season series --
This is the only meeting of the season between inter-conference teams. They met twice last season, with each team winning on its home ice. The Blues blanked the Panthers 4-0 on Oct. 25, 2008, with Brad Boyes scoring twice and goalies Ben Bishop
and Marek Schwarz combining on the shutout. David Booth
's hat trick helped the Panthers answer back with a 5-3 win on March 7, 2009.
Big Story --
St. Louis continues to have trouble winning in its own building -- the Blues have won just one of their first five games at the Scottrade Center following a 2-0 loss to Phoenix on Thursday. Florida had been having trouble just winning in general, but came away with a 6-5 shootout win in Dallas on Friday despite blowing an early three-goal lead.
It had been two weeks between victories for Florida, which finally nailed down the second point when Rostislav Olesz, who also scored in regulation, beat Alex Auld in the penalty-shot tiebreaker. The Panthers were in danger of wasting a natural hat trick in the first period by Steven Reinprecht
, as the Stars rallied from 3-0, 4-2 and 5-4 deficits.
"With how things have been going for us, it was an important two points," coach Peter DeBoer said.
Out of the disappointment of the loss to the Coyotes came the inspiring return of defenseman Eric Brewer, whose career at one point seemed in jeopardy following multiple back surgeries to repair a sciatic nerve and a subsequent knee surgery.
"I wasn't very nervous," Brewer told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I've kind of gone over this a gazillion times, prior to coming out here. I was actually more excited than nervous. I will say that I was anxious to see how I fit in and to confirm to myself that this is where I belong.
"I felt good. I wasn't too sure how it was going to go. It's nice to get through the game, and I don't have any issues at all."
Who's Hot --
Reinprecht didn't have a goal through five games, but has since tallied eight in his next six games. He didn't miss the mark once Friday, needing just three shots to record the hat trick.
of the Blues didn't have a point through seven games, but followed with three goals and six points in his next three games before he and the rest of his teammates were held off the board by the Coyotes.
Injury Report --
The front line has taken a hit for the Panthers, with forwards David Booth
(concussion), Radek Dvorak (knee) and Dominic Moore (nasal surgery) all on the shelf.
With Brewer back, the Blues are anticipating the return of fellow defenseman Barret Jackman
from a high-ankle sprain in the not-too-distant future. Forwards D.J. King (broken hand) and Alexander Steen
(fractured wrist) remain out for the long term.
Stat Pack --
Florida goalie Scott Clemmensen
won Friday despite giving up five goals. Oddly enough, the previous three times he gave up five goals in a game, for New Jersey last season, he also came away with victories over Washington (6-5 in a shootout), the New York Rangers (8-5) and San Jose (6-5). It's likely on the second night of a back-to-back situation that Clemmensen will sit Saturday in favor of Tomas Vokoun.
Puck Drop --
Both teams came back from season-opening series in Europe feeling pretty good about themselves, but since then times have gotten tough. St. Louis will be the more rested team, but Florida has positive momentum on its side.
-- Brian Hunter, NHL.com