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Top goal-scorers meet as Blues visit Lightning

by Mike Battaglino

BLUES (8-1-2) at LIGHTNING (9-4-0)


Last 10: St. Louis 7-1-2; Tampa Bay 7-3-0

Season series: This is the first of two meetings. The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the St. Louis Blues twice this preseason, each by a 4-3 score. St. Louis won the two regular-season games in 2011-12, outscoring Tampa Bay 6-1.

Big story: Two of the NHL's top goal-scorers -- one a surprise, one familiar -- will take the ice. Blues forward Alexander Steen has 12 goals (halfway to his career high) to lead the League, and Lightning forward Steven Stamkos has 10; tying him for second with Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals.

Each team traveled a short distance late Friday night after shutting out an opponent on the road. St. Louis defeated the Florida Panthers 4-0. Tampa Bay topped the Carolina Hurricanes 3-0.

Team Scope:

Blues: Since the 2010-11 season, St. Louis is 28-6-5 against teams from the Eastern Conference, according to Fox Sports Midwest. The Blues have averaged 2.89 goals in those games, allowing 1.77.

St. Louis defensemen have four goals and 26 assists this season.

"I think our depth sometimes surprises other teams, the way we can come in waves," forward T.J. Oshie told the network. "We've been getting a lot of chances to play with [defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester] on the blue line there, and they make so much happen from the D-zone first pass all the way out.

"Just everything's coming together, we're playing great, and ... [Steen's] putting them in the net."

After going a week between games, St. Louis will play for the fifth time in nine days. The Blues have a point in their four previous road games (3-0-1).

Jaroslav Halak will be in goal after backup Brain Elliott made 31 saves against the Panthers.

Lightning: Tampa Bay returns home, where it went 5-2-0 during a seven-game stand last month, losing only to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins.

The Lightning started last season 6-1-0 before losing 14 of their next 18. They finished 14th in the Eastern Conference.

"This is a tough league to come from back," coach Jon Cooper told The Sports Xchange. "Look no further than Columbus last year when they reeled off 19 wins in 23 games and couldn't get in [to the Stanley Cup Playoffs]. You can't fall behind. You have to be in the hunt. People argue you have to win the games in March and April. Yeah, you have to win those, but you have to win the ones in October and November if you want to give yourself a chance. So far so good for us."

Ben Bishop will start after he shut out the Hurricanes with 31 saves.

Who's hot: Steen has eight goals in a six-game goal streak. Oshie has an assist in six straight games and in nine of the 11. … Stamkos has nine points (five goals) and forward Martin St. Louis has six points (three goals) in the past five games.

Injury report: Blues forward Brenden Morrow (upper body) did not play Friday. Forward Magnus Paajarvi (upper body) is out. … Lightning forward Tom Pyatt (collarbone) is out until late November.

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