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Coyotes back in action, welcome in Blues

by Mike G. Morreale
BLUES (28-25-9) at COYOTES (37-21-5)

Last 10 -- St. Louis 5-4-1; Phoenix 7-3-0

Season series --
This is the fourth and final meeting between the teams. Phoenix won the first two games, including a 2-0 triumph in St. Louis on Oct. 29, before the Blues rebounded with a 3-2 overtime verdict on Nov. 19. Blues defenseman Erik Johnson capped an end-to-end rush by scoring on Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov with 17 seconds left in OT to give the Blues that victory.

Big Story -- The game is the first for each club following the Olympic break. Blues forward Keith Tkachuk will be sidelined 10 days after undergoing successful surgery on his left pinkie finger on Friday. Tkachuk has 12 goals and 28 points in 55 games this season -- his ninth in St. Louis. Tkachuk's surgery was performed by Dr. Charles Goldfard at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. He's eyeing a return to the lineup on March 11 against the Islanders in Uniondale, N.Y.

Team Scope:

Blues --
Forward Cam Janssen received a five-game suspension from the NHL on Thursday for his Feb. 13 hit to the head on Matt Bradley of the Washington Capitals. Janssen must forfeit $14,248.70 and will miss five games (March 2-13). He's eligible to return March 14 in Minnesota.

"It's unfortunate," said Blues President John Davidson, who didn't disagree with the suspension. "Cam has a feel for what happened and he did talk directly to the player that he hit. I don't think (Janssen) plays the game in a malicious way, but he plays it hard and the timing was late."

Coyotes --
The Coyotes have 19 games remaining in the regular season and are eyeing their first Stanley Cup playoff berth in eight years. The club is fourth in the Western Conference with 79 points and unless it can pass Pacific Division-leading San Jose (89 points), it'll likely remain there. Shane Doan was a part of the last playoff team in Phoenix during the 2001-02 campaign.

"When I was here early in my career it was good, but it's been a long time," Doan told The Arizona Republic. "You can't wait for these next 19 games; you've got to do what you're supposed to do."

Who's Hot --
Blues right wing T.J. Oshie has 6 goals and 17 points in his last 22 games and goalie Chris Mason won three straight prior to the Olympic break, allowing just 6 goals on 106 shots in that span.

Injury Report --
Tkachuk will likely miss the next three games for St. Louis with a broken pinkie on his left hand. … For the Coyotes, defenseman Kurt Sauer (neck injury) is not expected back this season. Forwards Scottie Upshall (right knee) is done for the regular season after tearing his ACL and center Joel Perrault (upper body injury) is questionable after being placed on injured reverse just one game after being recalled from the team's AHL affiliate in San Antonio.

Stat Pack --
Bryzgalov's career-high 32 wins is one shy of the franchise record for victories in a season. The current mark is held by three players including current Phoenix goalie coach Sean Burke (2001-02).

Puck Drop --
Two of the Coyotes' three Olympians, Bryzgalov (Russia) and defenseman Zbynek Michalek (Czech Republic), rejoined the team on Sunday. Defenseman Sami Lepisto played Saturday and earned bronze for Finland against Slovakia.

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