Uncertainty over the severity of an injury to Manny Legace has left the St. Louis Blues' goaltending situation muddled, but their recent success at home against the Florida Panthers has been quite clear.
The Blues could have Legace back in net as they look to extend their home unbeaten streak over the Panthers to seven games on Thursday night.
St. Louis has six wins and a scoreless tie at home against Florida since a 3-1 loss in November 1996. Two of the victories in that span have been shutouts.
However, St. Louis (16-10-2) enters this contest having dropped its last two games, including a 5-4 shootout defeat to Edmonton on Tuesday. During the morning skate prior to the game, Legace surprised team officials when he said his injured right knee would need additional surgery at the end of the season.
Coach Andy Murray said Legace's remarks were the first he'd heard on the topic. Team president John Davidson also expressed surprise.
"I would think that at the end of the season, he'd re-evaluate the situation and see if he needs surgery or not," Davidson said. "As far as I know, I don't think there's anything in stone. Manny said what he said. If he thinks at the end of the year he'll need surgery, he'll have surgery."
Legace missed the final 25 games of last season after arthroscopic surgery to repair cartilage damage. He had a previous operation on the same knee in the summer of 2006. He's 11-6-1 with a 2.22 goals-against average this season, but has missed the last four games.
Hannu Toivonen has gotten the starts during Legace's absence, and has gone 1-2-1 with a 4.64 GAA. He allowed eight goals Sunday in a 9-5 road loss to Colorado.
If Legace plays, he will try to stay unbeaten against the Panthers. In five career starts versus Florida, Legace is 2-0-0 with three ties and 1.52 GAA, although he hasn't faced the Panthers since 2003, when he was with Detroit.
The Panthers (13-15-2) will try to extend their road winning streak to a season-high four games as they begin a trip that also will take them to Detroit, Chicago and Montreal.
Florida wrapped up a dismal 1-3-1 homestand with a 2-1 shootout loss to Calgary on Tuesday. Tomas Vokoun appeared headed toward his second straight shutout, but gave up the tying goal to Jarome Iginla with 10.2 seconds left in regulation and was beaten by Kristian Huselius for the lone shootout marker.
"It looked like we were going to get (two) points," said Panthers captain Olli Jokinen, who scored his team-high 16th goal. "We didn't. Ten seconds remaining and they got a tying goal. We should have two points."
It was the fourth time this season in which Florida surrendered a game-tying or game-winning goal in the final minute.
Playing his first season with Florida after spending the previous eight with Nashville, Vokoun has 11 regulation losses in 26 games.
Since the end of the lockout, though, Vokoun is 6-0-0 with a 1.17 GAA against the Blues.