BLUES (32-10-5) at RED WINGS (21-17-10)
TV: FS-MW, FS-D
Last 10: St. Louis 7-3-0; Detroit 4-5-1
Season series: This is the first game of the season between these former Central Division and Western Conference rivals; they play again on the final day of the season April 13.
Big story: The Detroit Red Wings are the only team in the NHL challenging for a playoff berth who currently own a losing record at home. The Red Wings are 7-10-7 at Joe Louis Arena, and will need to improve that record when they continue a season-long, five-game homestand against the St. Louis Blues on Monday.
The Red Wings are off to a successful, but shaky, start after a wacky-bounce goal allowed them to force overtime in the homestand’s opener Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings.
The Blues are in the midst of a rare mini-skid, with three regulation losses in their past four games. St. Louis still sits third in the Western Conference with 69 points, but the margin for error grows smaller.
Blues: In St. Louis' most recent three losses to the Vancouver Canucks, Kings and Anaheim Ducks, the opposition has scored first. Coach Ken Hitchcock made it clear after a 3-2 loss to the Ducks on Saturday that the slow starts would not be tolerated.
"It's really just the same movie, different day," Hitchcock said. "We're going to have to figure out a way to fix it. ... We're going to have to have better starts, we're going to have to have more people engaged, we're going to have to play on our toes. Can't beat good teams playing on your heels.”
Blues forward Alexander Steen played 20:56 against the Ducks, his first game time since missing 11 games with a concussion.
Red Wings: It was almost certainly a lucky goal, but it might’ve been just the break Detroit needed. With a laundry list of injuries and an sub-.500 home record, the Red Wings’ chances against Los Angeles appeared slim. When Los Angeles scored a go-ahead goal with 2:15 remaining, that fate was confirmed.
Until it wasn’t. The Red Wings drew a late penalty and with 27 seconds left, Niklas Kronwall’s deflected shot flew into the mesh, bounced back into play, off goalie Jonathan Quick’s back and into the goal. The game eventually went to a shootout, where Tomas Tatar sealed it for the Red Wings.
The Red Wings may need a few more breaks with upcoming home games against St. Louis, the Chicago Blackhawks, Montreal Canadiens and the Florida Panthers.
“Really big homestand, we got some great teams coming in here,” goalie Jimmy Howard told the team’s website. “It’s going to take 60 minutes or more these next four games.”
Who’s hot: Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg had a goal and an assist against Los Angeles. Zetterberg averages better than a point a game against St. Louis in his career, and had three goals and six points against them in 2013.
Injury report: Blues center Maxim Lapierre (lower body) is on injured reserve. … Red Wings center Cory Emmerton (hand) will miss the game Monday. Centers Pavel Datsyuk (lower body) and Stephen Weiss (sports hernia surgery) are on injured reserve, and center Joakim Andersson (lower body) is day-to-day. Forwards Johan Franzen (upper body) and Daniel Alfredsson (groin, back), defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (shoulder, rib), and goalie Jonas Gustavsson (groin, neck) are on IR.