Blues-Blue Jackets Preview
GAME: St. Louis Blues (16-6-2-1) at Columbus Blue Jackets (8-14-4-1).
TIME: Friday, 7 p.m. EST.
The St. Louis Blues look to keep pace in the battle for the Central Division
lead when they take on the Columbus Blue Jackets for the first time this
The Blues are playing well, posting a 5-1-2 mark in their last eight games,
but have fallen into second place behind Detroit in the Central. The Red Wings
beat the Blues on Nov. 29 and tied them Dec. 4, giving them three of a possible
four points from their closest competition in a six-day span.
Detroit has gone 6-1-1 in its last eight to take the division lead.
St. Louis won its second in a row Tuesday, as Chris Pronger scored 30
seconds into overtime to give the Blues a 3-2 victory over the red-hot Toronto
Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre.
"It's a huge win," Pronger said. "It's a great feeling to stop a team
that's playing with that kind of confidence. It shows us how well we can play
against some of the top teams in the league."
Penalty killing has been a major factor in the Blues' recent strong play.
St. Louis held Toronto scoreless on seven power-play opportunities, and has
killed 41 of its opponents' 43 power-play chances in the last 11 games.
"The penalty kill has been a huge part of our success," center Doug Weight
said. "I loved the way we played. Unfortunately, they got a goal with 17
seconds left, but we bailed ourselves out in overtime."
The Blues will be completing a two-game road trip Friday before opening a
four-game homestand Saturday against Los Angeles. St. Louis is 9-2-1 at the
Savvis Center this season.
The Blue Jackets managed a 1-1 tie with the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday
night, earning a point against the team with the NHL's best record. Columbus,
though, is just 1-4-1 in its last six.
Columbus nearly pulled out the victory, but Sami Kapanen scored with 1:08
left in regulation to give the Flyers the tie.
The goal somewhat spoiled an outstanding performance by Blue Jackets backup
goaltender Fred Brathwaite, who stopped 40 shots.
"I got a chance to get in there and we got a point," Brathwaite said.
"But we should have had two."
Following the outstanding effort, Brathwaite could get the start Friday
against the Blues, with whom he played last season.
St. Louis beat Columbus in three of five meetings last season, outscoring
the Blue Jackets 18-4 in the three wins.