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Desperate Coyotes pay visit to stingy Blues

by Mike G. Morreale

COYOTES (18-17-7) at BLUES (24-16-2)


Last 10: Phoenix 5-2-3; St. Louis 7-3-0

Season series: This is the third of three meetings this season between the two teams. In the most recent clash on March 15, St. Louis Blues rookie Jake Allen made 28 saves to preserve a 3-0 victory at Scottrade Center. Forward Chris Stewart had two goals and one assist in the win.

Big story: The Phoenix Coyotes' slim playoff hopes took a hit on Monday following a 4-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks at Arena in Glendale. Phoenix had earned a point in eight of its previous nine games prior to the loss. With just six games remaining, the Coyotes are in 11th place in the Western Conference with 43 points and would likely need to run the table to avoid missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in four years.

Team Scope:

Coyotes: Faced with a must-win against the Sharks on Monday on home ice, the Coyotes were outshot, 24-7, and outscored, 3-0, in the second period on the way to being shut out for the seventh time this season. Goalie Jason LaBarbera made 37 saves standing in for injured goalie Mike Smith, who sustained a lower-body injury in practice on Sunday and was unable to make it through Monday's morning skate.

"What frustrates me is when you have situations when you don't think we're playing as well as we can," coach Dave Tippett said. "We don't have enough players impacting the outcome of the game in a positive way. We've got too many players that are just taking up a spot right now."

Blues: The Blues halted a two-game losing streak and helped coach Ken Hitchcock earn career win No. 600 in the National Hockey League following a 2-1 shootout decision over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday. Andy McDonald and Alexander Steen scored shootout goals and goalie Brian Elliott made it stand. Despite the victory, St. Louis has not scored more than two goals in any of its last six games, relying on the stellar play of Elliott and Allen to begin the month. Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester scored his first goal as a member of the Blues to pull his team into a 1-1 tie with just 13 seconds left in the second period.

Who's hot: Elliott rebounded strong after allowing two goals on 24 shots in a 2-0 loss to Chicago on Sunday with a 22-save performance in a shootout win over the Canucks two days later. The 28-year-old goalie is 6-1-0 in his last seven decisions with a 1.00 goals-against average, .963 save percentage and three shutouts.

Injury report: Left wing Lauri Korpikoski (upper body) and goalie Smith (lower body) are listed day-to-day for Phoenix. … St. Louis forwards Scott Nichol (lower body) and T.J. Oshie (foot) are questionable while goalie Jaroslav Halak (lower body) is out.

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