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Blues at Blackhawks preview

St. Louis seeks share of Central lead; Chicago looks to avoid third straight loss

by Scott King / Correspondent

BLUES (43-28-8) at BLACKHAWKS (34-33-12)

8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVAS


The Game

The St. Louis Blues will look to force a three-way tie for first place in the Central Division when they visit the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Wednesday.

St. Louis, two points behind the Nashville Predators and the Winnipeg Jets for the lead in the Central Division of the Western Conference, has won two straight and is 7-1-1 in its past nine games.

The Blues can become the second team in NHL history to win their division after being in last place in the League at any point after the 20th game of season (the Washington Capitals won the Southeast Division in 2007-08, they were in last place overall through 30 games).

Chicago, eliminated from Stanley Cup Playoff contention, has lost two in a row. 


Players to watch

Blues center Ryan O'Reilly has five points (one goal, four assists) in a five-game point streak and 74 points (27 goals, 47 assists) in 79 games this season.

Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (34 goals) is one goal away from setting his NHL career high (he also had 34 in 2008-09). Toews reached a career high for points (78) in a season on Monday with a goal and an assist against the Winnipeg Jets in a 4-3 overtime loss.


They said it

"Obviously it's a really good team, especially offensively with these games too. Just for them, I think they'll probably be a little bit looser. Go out there, try to make plays, taking chances a little bit more. For us, needing these points, we have to be sharp defensively." -- Blues center Ryan O'Reilly

"There's only a couple of games left, so I think we're building towards a better future, I guess. We've got to keep using these games the same way we have been lately. Obviously our motivation is to keep winning. We've fallen short a lot lately. It never feels good. We want to go out there and give our fans something to appreciate the last few games." -- Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews


Blues projected lineup

Brayden Schenn -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Vladimir Tarasenko

Jaden Schwartz -- Oskar Sundqvist -- David Perron

Pat Maroon -- Tyler Bozak -- Robert Thomas

Zach Sanford -- Ivan Barbashev -- Alexander Steen

Vince Dunn -- Alex Pietrangelo

Jay Bouwmeester -- Colton Parayko

Carl Gunnarsson -- Robert Bortuzzo

Jake Allen

Jordan Binnington 

Scratched: Robby Fabbri, Michael Del Zotto, Mackenzie MacEachern

Injured: Joel Edmundson (lower body), Sammy Blais (lower body)


Blackhawks projected lineup

Brandon Saad -- Jonathan Toews -- Drake Caggiula

Brendan Perlini -- Dylan Strome -- Dominik Kahun

Alex DeBrincat -- Artem Anisimov -- Patrick Kane

Chris Kunitz -- Marcus Kruger -- John Hayden

Duncan Keith -- Erik Gustafsson

Dennis Gilbert -- Brent Seabrook

Carl Dahlstrom -- Connor Murphy

Cam Ward 

Corey Crawford

Scratched: Slater Koekkoek, Gustav Forsling

Injured: David Kampf (facial/dental injury)


Status report

Defenseman Dennis Gilbert, who was recalled by the Blackhawks from Rockford of the American Hockey League, will make his NHL debut. … Blackhawks forward Dylan Sikura was re-assigned to Rockford. … Blais and Edmundson participated in the Blues' morning skate.


Stat pack

Perron has 24 points (10 goals, 14 assists) in his past 22 games. … Bouwmeester needs one assist for 100 with the Blues. … Kane has 11 points (one goal, 10 assists) in his past 15 games after having 44 points (18 goals, 26 assists) in his previous 22.

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