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Blues try to end slump against surging 'Canes

by David Kalan /

HURRICANES (3-2-1) at BLUES (2-4-0)

TV: FS-Carolinas (HD), FS-Midwest (HD)

Season Series: This is the first of two meetings this season between Carolina and St. Louis. The Hurricanes won the only meeting between the two a year ago, a 2-1 shootout victory at Scottrade Center on Dec. 11, 2010.

Big Story: As the Hurricanes hit the home stretch of an early-season four-game road trip, they'll look to take two points in St. Louis, where the Blues are off to a disappointing start.

Team Scope:

Hurricanes: The 2011-12 season got off to a quick and painful start for Carolina, which dropped its first three games in a span of just four days. But the 'Canes have found their legs in the past 10 days; since losing at New Jersey in a Columbus Day matinee on Oct. 10, they have won three straight against fairly impressive competition. One of those wins came against a Buffalo team widely expected to compete in the East while the other two both came against the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins -- one at home and the other in Boston.

A big reason for the turnaround is goalie Cam Ward, who has stopped 98 of the 104 shots he's faced during the three wins. As a result, Carolina is close behind division-leading Washington. The opportunity to make more ground lies ahead. After the Canes finish their current four-game road swing, they'll play five of their next six at home.

Blues: After opening the season with thoughts of a playoff berth, things haven't gone too smoothly in St. Louis. The Blues are in a difficult stretch in which they play eight of nine games on the road, with Friday's game against Carolina the only pit stop at home. The Blues went 1-3-0 in the first four games of that stretch -- losses that have been particularly rough for netminder Jaroslav Halak. In his last three games he's given up 11 goals, including four on 18 shots before he was pulled in a 5-0 loss at Los Angeles on Tuesday night.

Who's Hot: Alex Steen had three goals and two assists in the first five games of the season before the Blues' shutout loss to L.A. ... In addition to scoring the game-winner against Boston on Tuesday, Joni Pitkanen has five points in his last three games.

Injury Report: Zac Dalpe is doubtful for the Canes with a lower-body injury. … Defenseman Taylor Chorney is questionable for the Blues with a knee injury. No. 1 center Andy McDonald (concussion) is on IR; defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo (upper-body injury) says he expects to play.

Stat Pack : As the Hurricanes prepare to wrap up their four-game road trip in Winnipeg Saturday night, Friday's stop in the Gateway City could feel a little like home. Carolina hasn't lost in St. Louis since Jan. 5, 2008, nearly four years ago.

Puck Drop: Friday's game marks the first NHL meeting between St. Louis forward Chris Stewart and his older brother, Anthony, a forward with the Hurricanes. Though Chris is in his fourth NHL season and Anthony in his sixth, they've never faced each other.

Chris has better numbers (69 goals to 20; 138 points to 53), but he says he owes his career to his big brother, who persuaded him to forsake football for a career on the ice.

"If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be where I am today," Chris said. "He obviously set the bar high for the footsteps to fall in the family. Just watching him growing up and learning that power forward game firsthand, he's the one I learned it from."

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