Blues-Blue Jackets Preview
GAME: St. Louis Blues (20-8-4-1) at Columbus Blue Jackets (9-19-4-3).
TIME: Monday, 7 p.m. EST.
The St. Louis Blues will try to end a four-game winless streak when they
visit the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.
St. Louis, four points behind Central Division-leading Detroit, is 0-2-2
over its last four, including a 3-3 tie with Colorado on Friday night.
The Blues received an emotional lift with the return of forwards Doug Weight
and Keith Tkachuk on Friday as both had two assists.
It was a surprise start for Tkachuk, who missed the previous three games
with an infection in his ankle. Weight returned to play after aggravating a
groin injury Monday in Detroit and sitting out Tuesday's game in Chicago.
"Of course, it was a lift for us," said Eric Nickulas, who scored a late
first-period goal on an assist from Weight. "How could it not be? Tkachuk
gutted through with a great performance. No one knew he was going to play."
However, the Blues allowed a late third-period goal to remain winless since
a 4-2 victory over San Jose on Dec. 18.
"I thought we were flat and they came at us hard," Blues coach Joel
Quenneville said. "They were ready to go."
Columbus has managed just one victory is its last 11 games, and its 25
points are the least in the Western Conference.
The Blue Jackets failed to follow up their first road win of the season on
Friday, suffering a 4-3 loss to Dallas the following night.
Rick Nash scored his league-leading 23rd goal and Nikolai Zherdev and Lasse
Pirjeta added goals for Columbus, which slipped to 1-9-1 in its last 11.
After trailing 3-1 after the first period, Columbus coach Doug MacLean
pulled goaltender Fred Brathwaite in favor of Marc Denis.
"We battled back, but I'm getting sick and tired of pulling goaltenders,"