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Daily Primer Nov. 21: Blues build success in Boston

by John Kreiser

For the first 34 years of the St. Louis Blues' existence, a trip to Boston was something to be dreaded. The Blues went 13-35-9 in Boston during the regular season and lost all four visits during the Stanley Cup Playoffs -- including the deciding game of the 1970 Final in which Bobby Orr scored the Cup-winner in overtime.

That's all changed in the past 12 years. The Blues haven't lost in Boston since Jan. 30, 2001, and they've won their past five visits while outscoring the Bruins 21-9. They'll try to extend that streak when they come to TD Garden on Thursday night.

Here's a complete look at the NHL's busy Thursday schedule:

Nashville Predators at Toronto Maple Leafs -- The up-and-down Predators are on an upswing again after back-to-back wins against the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings. Rookie Marek Mazanec has been in goal for both games, including a 2-0 shutout of the Red Wings in Detroit on Tuesday. Toronto's offense went through a five-goals-in-five-games cold spell before scoring four goals against the Buffalo Sabres and five more against the New York Islanders in a 5-2 home win on Tuesday. The Maple Leafs have won five in a row at Air Canada Centre, and they'll have center Nazem Kadri back after a three-game suspension.

Buffalo Sabres at Philadelphia Flyers -- The Sabres have lost two of three under interim coach Ted Nolan since last week's shakeup. They're coming off a 4-1 home loss to the Blues in which they went scoreless for the final 59:50 after Tyler Ennis scored 10 seconds after the opening faceoff. The Flyers, who fired coach Peter Laviolette after an 0-3-0 start, are starting to figure things out under Craig Berube. They beat the Ottawa Senators 5-2 on Tuesday to improve to 4-0-1 in their past five games and 8-7-2 since the coaching change.

St. Louis Blues at Boston Bruins -- The Blues have split the first two games of a three-game trip and are 6-1-1 in their past eight as they come to TD Garden for the first time in three years. St. Louis leads the NHL in goal differential at plus-23. The Bruins had a well-deserved off day on Wednesday after completing a back-to-back sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers with a 2-1 victory at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. That win was made possible by a 43-save performance by Tuukka Rask.

Carolina Hurricanes at Detroit Red Wings -- It's been 27 years since the Red Wings have gone eight games without a victory at Joe Louis Arena, but that's the slump they bring into their game with the Hurricanes. However, the 2-0 loss to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday was only the second time in those eight games that the Red Wings went home empty-handed. They are also 0-2-5 overall in their past seven games. Carolina got starting goaltender Cam Ward back on Monday night but still lost, 4-1 to the Bruins. The Hurricanes have dropped two in a row after a 4-0-1 spurt.

Chicago Blackhawks at Winnipeg Jets -- It's the third game this month between the Central Division rivals, and the Jets are hoping for a better outcome than the first two -- 5-1 and 4-1 losses in which the defending Stanley Cup champions dominated. The Blackhawks started their seven-game "Circus Trip" with a thud on Tuesday when they were beaten 5-1 by the Colorado Avalanche. They're expected to be without forward Bryan Bickell, who went down with a lower-body injury in Denver. The Jets have gone to shootouts in four of their past five games; they've won three but are coming off a 5-4 home loss to the Calgary Flames in an eight-round tiebreaker on Monday.

New York Rangers at Dallas Stars -- It's just the fourth time since 2002 that the Rangers are visiting Dallas, where they've won three times in 12 tries since the Stars' franchise relocated from Minnesota 20 years ago. The Rangers got Rick Nash back on Tuesday night against Boston, but Nash didn't score and New York lost 2-1 despite outshooting the Bruins 44-22. The Rangers will have to cool off the Stars' dynamic duo of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, who help lead Dallas to a sweep of its three-game trip through Western Canada, including a 2-1 win against the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.

Colorado Avalanche at Phoenix Coyotes -- The Avalanche put the wheels back on the bus Tuesday night after three straight losses, when they routed the Blackhawks 5-1 at home. Colorado is 15-5-0 but has lost its past two road games after winning the first six. The Coyotes (14-4-3) are one of two teams that has yet to lose in regulation in its own building, and they've won eight straight at Arena. Though Phoenix doesn't have any player with more than 18 points, the Coyotes are third in the NHL with 73 goals.

Florida Panthers at Edmonton Oilers -- Each team has six wins, but enters this game off back-to-back victories. The Panthers ended a 19-year victory drought in Vancouver with a 3-2 shootout win on Tuesday behind the goaltending of Tim Thomas, whose last previous appearance at Rogers Arena had been a shutout in Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final for the Bruins. Oilers coach Dallas Eakins says he'll stick with the same lineup that pummeled the Columbus Blue Jackets 7-0 on Tuesday, meaning that Mark Arcobello, whose overtime goal beat the Panthers in Florida on Nov. 5, will take a seat again.

New Jersey Devils at Los Angeles Kings -- After not seeing each other since the Kings beat the Devils in Game 6 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Final to win the first championship in franchise history, these teams are meeting for the second time in less than a week. Los Angeles won 2-0 in Newark last Friday behind the goaltending of Ben Scrivens, who has won all four of his starts since taking over when Jonathan Quick went down with a groin injury last Tuesday. The Devils opened their trip through California by beating the Anaheim Ducks 4-3 Wednesday night on a fluke goal by Travis Zajac 1:58 into overtime.

Tampa Bay Lightning at San Jose Sharks -- The Lightning were 7-0-0 against Western Conference teams before they headed to Arizona and California last weekend; they're now 7-2-0 after losing at Phoenix and Los Angeles. The Sharks had three days off after a 5-1 loss at Chicago on Sunday night, a disappointing end to a five-game road trip in which they came home with seven points and their first-ever sweep of the three Western Canada teams. They might have forward Brent Burns back in the lineup; facial injuries have kept him out for 13 games. San Jose is 7-0-1 with Burns, 6-3-4 without him.

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