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Blues, Wings clash with first place on the line

by Brian Compton
BLUES (29-12-6) at RED WINGS (32-15-1)


Last 10: St. Louis 8-1-1; Detroit 8-2-0.

Season Series: This is the fifth of six meetings between the Central Division rivals. The clubs have split the first four games, as Detroit evened things up with a 3-0 victory at Joe Louis Arena on New Year's Eve.

Big Story: First place in the Western Conference is on the line in this one, as Detroit enters Monday's action just one point ahead of St. Louis. Both teams are in the midst of winning streaks as the Wings have won six in a row, while the Blues are seeking their fifth straight victory. Monday's game will be televised across both the United States and Canada.
Team Scope:

Blues: St. Louis completed its five-game homestand (4-0-1) with Saturday night's 4-2 win against the Buffalo Sabres at the Scottrade Center. David Backes scored twice for the Blues, who allowed only 7 goals over the five games on home ice. They're 8-0-1 in January and have earned 17 of a possible 18 points.

"We can't win every game 1-0," Backes said. "Our goaltending has been phenomenal. When they only let in one or two goals, we have to make sure we have the offensive firepower to reward them."

Red Wings: They needed a shootout to get it, but the Wings made it 16 straight at Joe Louis Arena with a 3-2 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night. The 16-game home winning streak tied Detroit with the 1975-76 Boston Bruins for the fourth-longest home winning streak in NHL history. Only the 1929-30 Boston Bruins and 1975-76 Philadelphia Flyers (20 each), and the 1970-71 Bruins (19) had longer home winning streaks.

"We think we're going to win, which is a real nice thing to have," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "But we can play better than we have, no question about it. So we don't want to get into a rut playing like this, we want to play way better."

Who's Hot: Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak is 11-0-3 in his last 14 starts and has shutouts in three of his last five. Alex Pietrangelo, meanwhile, is riding a nine-game point streak. … Wings center Pavel Datsyuk has 7 assists over his last five games. 

Injury Report: Blues forward Alexander Steen is day-to-day with a concussion, while Andy McDonald (concussion) and Kent Huskins (ankle) are out. … Detroit's Patrick Eaves is out with a fractured jaw.

Stat Pack: As well as Halak has played as of late, he's just 2-3-1 with a 4.35 goals-against average against Detroit. … With Saturday's win, Wings goalie Jimmy Howard improved to 4-0 in shootouts this season.

Puck Drop: "We know that we can't try and change our game to be a run-and-gun, turn-and-burn, let's have a track race kind of game. … That's just not the way we are. We need to play hard and win battles and wear on teams. When we do that, we stick to our game, and good things happen." -- Blues captain David Backes

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