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Weekly Primer

Blues look to continue surge in standings

Jake Allen returns for St. Louis, which has won five straight

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Just when the St. Louis Blues get a key player back in the mix, they lose another.

On the same day goalie Jake Allen was activated off injured reserve, the Blues placed forward Alexander Steen on IR because of an upper-body injury sustained during a 6-4 victory at the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday.

Steen, whose 47 points are second on the Blues, will be re-evaluated in four weeks.

 "When our best all-around player goes down, there's a lot to shoulder," St. Louis captain David Backes said after the game Saturday. "Different guys stepped up and played bigger minutes with bigger responsibility and did a heck of a job."

The Blues are two points behind the first-place Chicago Blackhawks in the Central Division and will seek their sixth straight win whey they face the San Jose Sharks at Scottrade Center on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN).

Allen missed 17 games because of a lower-body injury. It is unknown if he will start Monday. Brian Elliott has won his past five starts and is 6-0-1 in his past seven.

Here are other games that should garner plenty of attention:

Tuesday, Feb. 23: New York Islanders at Minnesota Wild (7 p.m. ET; SNE, SNO, SNP, MSG+2, FS-N, FS-WI, NHL.TV) -- Minnesota is 4-0-0 under coach John Torchetti and has outscored its opponents by a 21-8 margin, including a 6-1 win against the Chicago Blackhawks at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday. The Wild haven't won at Xcel Energy Center since Dec. 28.

Wednesday, Feb. 24: Buffalo Sabres at Anaheim Ducks (10:30 p.m. ET; MSG-B, BELL TV, FS-W, NHL.TV) -- Anaheim continues to roll, winning its fifth straight in a 5-2 victory against the Calgary Flames on Sunday. Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf has an eight-game point streak; Ryan Kesler has five goals in February after scoring three in the previous four months combined.

Thursday, Feb. 25: Nashville Predators at Chicago Blackhawks (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SNE, CSN-CH) -- The Blackhawks return to action for the first time since their tough loss to the Wild in the 2016 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game in Minneapolis. "Definitely no excuse to play the way we did," goalie Corey Crawford told the Chicago Sun-Times. "It was a little embarrassing out there, to be honest. To have our fans come and watch that, it was definitely a tough one to swallow." Nashville is one point ahead of the surging Wild for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.

Saturday, Feb. 27: Detroit Red Wings at Colorado Avalanche (8 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports 2) -- The second and final Stadium Series game of the season will take place in Denver at Coors Field, the home of Major League Baseball's Colorado Rockies. The Avalanche defeated the Red Wings 3-2 in a shootout at Joe Louis Arena on Feb. 12. Colorado's Semyon Varlamov made 43 saves.

Video: Red Wings, Avalanche Stadium Series time-lapse

Sunday, Feb. 28: Washington Capitals at Chicago Blackhawks (12:30 p.m. ET; NBC, SN) -- The No. 1 seed in each conference as of Monday go head-to-head at United Center. Washington has a nine-point lead in the Presidents' Trophy race; the Capitals have won three in a row and eight of their past 10 games. Alex Ovechkin has scored in six of his past seven and has nine goals over that span.

Sunday, Feb. 28: Los Angeles Kings at Anaheim Ducks (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN) -- The "Freeway Faceoff" resumes at Honda Center. As of Monday, two points separate the Kings and Ducks in the Pacific Division standings. Los Angeles will play five straight games at home following this one.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Loui Eriksson, Boston Bruins -- Eriksson's name has surfaced in trade rumors over the past month, but it's hard to envision the Bruins trading him at this rate; Eriksson scored for the fifth time in the past six games Saturday during Boston's 7-3 win against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center. Eriksson, who can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, is third on the Bruins with 21 goals.

"I'm finding ways to score right now," Eriksson told NESN. "I just have to keep building on it. I'm just trying to stay maybe a little bit more in front (of the net) again, and the pucks are finding me. So, I'm going to try to keep doing that."

Shayne Gostisbehere, Philadelphia Flyers -- The rookie defenseman has emerged as a candidate for the Calder Trophy. Gostisbehere extended his point streak to 15 games Saturday when he scored in overtime to give the Flyers a 5-4 win at the Toronto Maple Leafs. Gostisbehere has four overtime goals this season.

"I'm living the dream," said Gostisbehere, who has five goals and 13 assists during the streak. "What can you say? I mean, it's just cool to have my teammates do it with me and see how happy they get. It's awesome."

Video: PHI@TOR: Gostisbehere wins it in overtime

Shawn Matthias, Colorado Avalanche -- Colorado realizes the battle it's in to qualify for the postseason and bolstered its lineup Sunday when it acquired Matthias from the Maple Leafs for forward Colin Smith and a fourth-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft. Matthias has 75 goals and 148 points in 459 games with the Florida Panthers, Vancouver Canucks and Maple Leafs.

"I'm excited. Lot of skill, beautiful place to play," Matthias told The Denver Post. "I know some guys on the team and I know some guys who have played there and they all say great things. I was surprised [Sunday] morning. I wasn't expecting that phone call [Sunday], but I'm excited to join the team and can't wait to get started."

LINE CHANGES

Matt Cullen, Pittsburgh Penguins -- Cullen, who is skating on the second line with Carl Hagelin and Phil Kessel while Evgeni Malkin recovers from a lower-body injury, has two goals in the past three games and four points in the past five. Malkin missed his ninth straight game Sunday, a 4-3 win against the Sabres. It is unknown if Malkin will be able to play when the Penguins visit the Bruins on Wednesday.

In the meantime, Cullen likes the chemistry he and Hagelin have created.

"I think the last little while here, (we've) gotten really good at pressuring guys and putting them in comfortable positions," Cullen told the Penguins website. "I think we're kind of like-minded in the way that we're killing penalties."

Video: PIT@BUF: Cullen scores on shorthanded breakaway

Ales Hemsky, Dallas Stars -- After losing back-to-back games, Stars coach Lindy Ruff shuffled his lines and had Hemsky skate with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn on Saturday. Hemsky scored the game's opening goal, but the Stars lost 7-3 to the Bruins. Hemsky has scored in two straight games and has a point in five of the past six.

"When [Hemsky] is skating the way he's skating, he's creating a lot of his own chances," Ruff told The Dallas Morning News. "It's an option I would like to try. I like where he's at. It's an opportunity to see if we can find something that's really dynamic."

Marek Hrivik, New York Rangers -- With the Rangers aiming to upgrade their fourth line, Hrivik made his NHL debut against the Red Wings on Sunday. Hrivik skated with Dominic Moore and Tanner Glass. Daniel Paille was waived after going 12 games without a point.

"We've tried different players on that line and we're still looking for a combination to make us a more effective four-line team," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "I think it's safe to say that our expectations of that line is a little bit higher than what we are getting at this time. The only player where we are satisfied with what he's bringing is Tanner."

POINT SHOTS

Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik scored his first game-winning goal in 798 regular-season games Saturday. Orpik returned to the lineup last week after missing more than three months because of a lower-body injury. "I know our bench. If we could've gone out to the blue line to hug Brooks, we all would have if we wouldn't have gotten a penalty for it," coach Barry Trotz told The Washington Post. "I think they all respect how hard he works, and he's one of the glue guys in our whole room." … The Sabres will be without forward Ryan O'Reilly for 3-4 weeks because of a lower-body injury. "Obviously, it's a huge loss for us," Sabres goalie Robin Lehner said. "He's a world-class player and leader of this room. But it's an opportunity for other guys to step up and take over his ice time and show what they can do. Every team loses guys, it's just going to be a great opportunity for someone else." … Congratulations to Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr, who scored twice Saturday to pass Brett Hull for third on the NHL's all-time goals list with 742. Jagr, 44, is 59 goals behind Gordie Howe for No. 2. "The NHL might have to kick him out of this league before he retires," Stars captain Jamie Benn said.

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