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Rangers try to get back on track vs. undefeated Blues

by Jon Lane /

RANGERS (1-3-0) vs. BLUES (3-0-0)


Season series: The New York Rangers and St. Louis Blues meet for the first time since Dec. 15, 2011, when Brian Elliott's 25 saves and Alexander Steen's goal and assist led the Blues to a 4-1 win at Scottrade Center.

Big story: The Rangers have been outscored 20-6 through their first four games under new coach Alain Vigneault. Their road doesn't get any easier as they travel to St. Louis to face an undefeated Blues team that has outscored its opponents 14-4.

"We're being tested as a group, being challenged, and it's up to me as head coach to get this team to play well and that's what I'm going to do," Vigneault said.

The Blues come off a dramatic 3-2 win against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday; they've now matched their best start to a season (1969-70, 1993-94) in franchise history. Steen came down on a 3-on-1 break and beat goalie Corey Crawford from inside the left circle with 21.1 seconds left for the game-winner.

Team Scope:

Rangers: The Rangers surrendered 15 goals in back-to-back losses this week, the first time since December 2006 they've given up 14 or more in consecutive games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. New York hoped to get back on track after a 9-2 loss against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday, but went into Anaheim on Thursday and fell 6-0 to the Ducks to remain in an early-season funk.

"We have to figure out what is going on," defenseman Dan Girardi said. "We have to get back to being a hard team to play against. I can't tell you why what's happening is happening. The system we have now is real simple, it's not some crazy thing that's so different from what we're used to. But for whatever reason, we seem to be lost."

This is the fifth of a nine-game season-opening trip for the Rangers, who won't play their first game at the remodeled Madison Square Garden until Oct. 28.

Blues: The Blues, playing the fourth game of a season-opening five-game homestand, welcome the Rangers as a confident group riding the high of their win Wednesday. There may be a long way to go in the season, but wins like the one against the Blackhawks have the potential to catapult a team to new heights.

"It's a big win, that's for sure," Steen said. "It's a rival team, a team that … I don't think these two teams care for each other very much … so these are always nice wins. But it's Game 3 and there's a long ways to go. We put a goal where we want to come out of the gates hard, continue to grow as a team and get better and better as the year goes. Like I said, this is a big win, we'll enjoy it, but it's Game 3."

Who's hot: Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak made 26 saves Wednesday to improve to 3-0-0 with a 1.33 goals-against average and a .948 save percentage. Forward Vladimir Tarasenko opened the scoring against the Blackhawks for his second goal in as many games.

Injury report: Forward Rick Nash (upper body) was sent back to New York on Thursday and will miss the game in St. Louis. There is no timetable for his return. Carl Hagelin (shoulder) remains on long-term IR. ... The Blues report no injuries.

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