BLUES (33-13-4) at SABRES (15-33-3)
TV: FS-MW, MSG-B, BELL TV
BUFFALO -- The St. Louis Blues take a six-game winning streak into the game against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center on Thursday.
The Blues are coming off a 2-1 overtime win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday and are 11-0-1 in the past 12 games. Despite the winning streak, the Blues sit two points behind the Nashville Predators for first place in the Central Division.
"I think it's been emblematic of our season," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We haven't reached our stride from a details standpoint, but we find ways to get points. Last game's a perfect example. We weren't good in the game, we were tired. It was a very tough schedule for us. To play three in three-and-a-half nights is very difficult, but we found a way not to get too far away from the game and then got points at the end. I think it's typical of our season is we've gotten points where the game's been even or it's been up for grabs and we've had the same three or four guys that snipe a goal for us and keep us going, but it's more that we don't let the games get away from us."
The Blues may have center Patrik Berglund back in the lineup against Buffalo. Berglund has missed the past three games with an upper-body injury. He skated on a line with Dmitrij Jaskin and Ty Rattie on Thursday.
"He'd be a game-time decision," Hitchcock said. "We bumped him around a little bit, we'll see how he feels in an hour or so. If he feels good then we're going to put him in and play him. He looks fine, but we did bump him pretty hard today."
Hitchcock said if Berglund plays, either Rattie or Joakim Lindstrom will play on the right side. Whoever doesn't play against the Sabres will play on Friday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Forward Steve Ott will play his first game in Buffalo since he was traded by the Sabres to the Blues on Feb. 28, 2014. Ott played two years in Buffalo and was captain of the Sabres when he was sent to St. Louis in the deal that also included Ryan Miller.
"I really loved my time here, my family really loved my time here," Ott said. "It's something special to be able to come back and face these guys. The only thing I can kind of relate it to is when I went back to Dallas. You try to get that nervous energy out right away, but at the same time you've got to play your game and they expect you to be yourself and I have to play that way as well."
Jake Allen will start in goal for the Blues.
Jhonas Enroth gets the start for the Sabres, who are looking to keep momentum going after a 3-2 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday. That win ended a 14-game losing streak.
"No one in here likes losing," Sabres forward Matt Moulson said. "[Enroth] came up big for us in that game. We have to do the right things every night to win on a consistent basis. Our mind is back on this game and that game in Montreal is forgotten and we move on and make sure we do the right things tonight."
Defenseman Nikita Zadorov will be scratched on Thursday in favor of Andre Benoit.
"He's staying around a bit too much," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. "He's got to skate a little bit more. He's starting to swoop. … Because we're in the position we are, doesn't mean we have to play a certain way. We still have to maintain that level of standard, especially those young guys, to make sure they don't get any of those bad habits."
Here are the projected lineups:
Alexander Steen – David Backes – T.J. Oshie
Jaden Schwartz – Paul Stastny – Vladimir Tarasenko
Dmitrij Jaskin – Patrik Berglund – Ty Rattie
Steve Ott – Marcel Goc – Ryan Reaves
Jay Bouwmeester – Alex Pietrangelo
Carl Gunnarsson – Chris Butler
Barret Jackman – Ian Cole
Scratched: Joakim Lindstrom
Injured: Kevin Shattenkirk (abdominal), Jori Lehtera (concussion symptoms), Chris Porter (leg)
Chris Stewart – Zemgus Girgensons – Tyler Ennis
Matt Moulson – Torrey Mitchell – Brian Gionta
Cody Hodgson – Brian Flynn – Drew Stafford
Nicolas Deslauriers – Matt Ellis – Patrick Kaleta
Josh Gorges – Tyler Myers
Andre Benoit – Rasmus Ristolainen
Tyson Strachan – Mike Weber
Scratched: Nikita Zadorov, Andrej Meszaros
Injured: Marcus Foligno (hand), Cody McCormick (blood clot)
Status report: Neuvirth will dress as the backup. He hasn't played since prior to the All-Star break after sustaining a lower body injury in off-ice workouts. The Sabres sent goaltender Matt Hackett to Rochester of the American Hockey League on Wednesday. Foligno skated with the team for the first time since he broke his hand in a fight against the Boston Bruins on Dec. 21. He said he hopes to play by Saturday or Sunday.
Who's hot: Tarasenko has scored in two straight games and has four points in the past four games. Steen has nine goals and 21 points in the past 14 games. Schwartz has 20 points in the past 18 games. … Stewart has 14 points in the past 20 games for the Sabres and had two goals against the Vancouver Canucks on Jan. 30.