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Road-weary Sabres face test in visiting Blues

by Dan Rosen
SABRES (19-23-5) at BLUES (28-12-6)


Last 10:
Buffalo 2-6-2; St. Louis 7-1-2

Season series:
This is the only meeting between the clubs this season. St. Louis won at Buffalo last season, 3-0.

Big Story:
These teams are trending in the exact opposite directions. The Blues have won three straight and seven of eight this month. Meanwhile, the Sabres, who are in the middle of a seven-game road trip, have lost four in a row and seven of their last eight games.

Team Scope:

Sabres: Buffalo is on the verge of becoming the worst team in the Eastern Conference. The Sabres are 0-4 so far on their seven-game road trip and they've won only three of their last 16 games (3-11-2). Worse yet, the Sabres haven't won back-to-back games since Nov. 8-11.

The Sabres have lost 11 in a row on the road, with their latest being a 4-1 defeat at Winnipeg on Thursday.

"I still say we can get through this," defenseman Tyler Myers told the Buffalo News. "But the clock's ticking. With the amount of firepower we have up front, no one believes that we can't score goals. It's a really tough stretch right now."

The Blues are red-hot and remain one of the best stories in the NHL this season. They entered Friday fourth in the Western Conference with 62 points. They were tied with the Blackhawks with 62 points and trailed the first-place Red Wings by one point.

Earlier this week, the Blues signed surprise All-Star goalie Brian Elliott to a two-year contract extension. Elliott was signed to a one-year, two-way deal in the offseason, but he has played his way into the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game. However, now it seems like he can't even crack the lineup because Jaroslav Halak is playing so well and heading into this game off back-to-back 1-0 shutouts.

St. Louis' win over Edmonton on Thursday came as a result of Halak's 15 saves and Alex Pietrangelo's goal with 5:14 left in regulation.

"I feel good, but when you look at the shots, I didn't have to stop many shots, many scoring chances," Halak said after picking up his third shutout in his last four starts. "The guys are playing really good hockey right now and hopefully we can at least keep doing it until the All-Star break."

Who's Hot: Halak is coming off back-to-back 1-0 victories over Dallas and Edmonton, and he's 10-0-3 in his last 13 decisions. He hasn't suffered a regulation loss since Nov. 22. Over the span, he is sporting a 1.50 goals-against average and .941 save percentage. He has a shutout streak that is at 148:25 and counting.

Injury Report:
For the Blues, Alex Steen and Andy McDonald are day-to-day. … For the Sabres, defensemen Robyn Regehr and Christian Ehrhoff as well as forward Tyler Ennis are still battling injuries. Paul Gaustad missed Thursday's game after he left Wednesday's game with an upper-body injury.

Stat Pack:
St. Louis leads the NHL with 20 home wins. The Blues won 23 home games all of last season. They haven't lost in regulation at home since Chicago beat them on Dec. 3. They're 12-0-2 at Scottrade Center ever since.

Puck Drop: The Blues won their previous two games with goals in the third period. They haven't allowed a third-period goal in the last 10 games.

"When you're still finding ways to win when you're not at your best, it's a sign of a good thing and a sign of a team coming together wanting to win and learning to win," defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo said. "I think that's what we've found within ourselves in this room. If it takes a third period to win a game like we have in the last couple games and we end up gutting it out and finding ways to win … hey, two points is two points. You're not going to ask how."

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