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Blues face Flames looking for seventh straight win

Victory moves St. Louis into first place in Central Division

by Aaron Vickers / Correspondent

BLUES (41-20-9) at FLAMES (28-35-5) 
TV: 9 p.m. ET; FS-MW, SNW, NHL.TV
-- The St. Louis Blues seek a season-high seventh straight win when they visit the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday.

The Blues haven't lost since Feb. 27, and are 11-3-0 in the past 14 games. 
"I think it's good for our confidence," said forward Vladimir Tarasenko, who was named the NHL's First Star of the Week on Monday. "We believe in our team, we believe in our players, we believe in our coaches, and everybody in this organization. We all have the same goal. We're trying to reach it this year.
"We have 12 games left to be ready for the playoffs. Our mindset right now is we need to keep winning as long as we can, and figure out what kind of mistakes we had in the first half of the season so we don't make them in the playoffs.
"Our focus is to win a Stanley Cup. That's what it's all about."
St. Louis is tied with the Dallas Stars for first in the Central Division at 91 points. The Chicago Blackhawks are third with 88 points. The Blues defeated the Stars, Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks -- who are second in the Pacific Division -- last week.
A single point against Calgary would move St. Louis into sole possession of first in the Central. Dallas hosts the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday.
"We're going into every game treating it the same," Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. "It sounds cliché, but we know it's on the line. We're not going to lie. It just doesn't seem like the Central Division is losing much. You've got to make sure you keep winning games because you can lose some ground."
Flames coach Bob Hartley understands the challenge the Blues present Monday.
"They're experienced. They're a very good hockey club," Hartley said. "Physically very imposing. They play a good game. It starts with their faceoffs. Starting with (David) Backes and company, they're a very good puck-possession team. When they don't have it, they use their size on the forecheck. They use their size to defend. They make it tough."
Calgary, which is 13 points behind the Minnesota Wild for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference, will be without defenseman TJ Brodie and forward Sam Bennett on Monday.
Each will miss their second straight game because of an upper-body injury.
"They're progressing," Hartley said. "They're doing much better, but not to the point to have them in the lineup [Monday]."
Here are the projected lineups:
Jaden Schwartz - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko
Robby Fabbri - Paul Stastny - Troy Brouwer
Magnus Paajarvi - Patrik Berglund - David Backes
Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves
Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo 
Carl Gunnarsson - Kevin Shattenkirk
Joel Edmundson - Colton Parayko
Jake Allen
Anders Nilsson
Injured: Alexander Steen (upper body), Brian Elliott (lower body), Steve Ott (hamstrings)
Scratched: Robert Bortuzzo, Dmitrij Jaskin
Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Micheal Ferland
Kenny Agostino - Mikael Backlund - Michael Frolik
Lance Bouma - Josh Jooris - Joe Colborne
Brandon Bollig - Matt Stajan - Garnet Hathaway
Mark Giordano - Deryk Engelland
Jyrki Jokipakka - Dougie Hamilton
Dennis Wideman - Jakub Nakladal
Joni Ortio
Jonas Hiller
Injured: Karri Ramo (torn ACL), Ladislav Smid (upper body), Sam Bennett (upper body), TJ Brodie (upper body)
Scratched: Niklas Backstrom
Status update: Paajarvi is expected to play after missing four games as a healthy scratch. … Ortio will make his fifth consecutive start. 
Who's hot: Tarasenko had three goals and six points in three games last week. He is tied for fifth in the NHL with 33 goals this season. … Fabbri has four assists and five points in a four-game point streak. … Stastny has five points in a three-game point streak. … Backlund has goals in two straight games, and 10 goals in his past 18 games.

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