Preview: Blues at Blackhawks
The St. Louis Blues have flipped the script since the calendar changed to 2019, collecting points in 32 of their last 42 games (28-10-4) to join Winnipeg and Nashville in their pursuit of the Central Division title. The Blues trail the Jets and Predators by two points but have a game in hand on both heading into Wednesday's game against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center.
Jordan Binnington has been an integral part of St. Louis' surge toward its seventh playoff berth in eight seasons, earning NHL Rookie of the Month honors for both February and March while raising his win total to 22 in 2019. The 25-year-old turned aside 24 shots in a 3-2 shootout victory over Colorado on Monday, improving the Blues to 7-1-1 in their last nine games. Chicago has been headed in the other direction with losses in six of its last eight contests (2-3-3), although Dylan Strome is keeping positive after his first career multi-goal performance in Monday's 4-3 overtime loss to Winnipeg. "We're working hard every day. ... There hasn't been a game where we've felt terribly about ourselves and we're right in every game," said the 22-year-old Strome, who had just one assist for his lone point in his previous seven contests.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, TVAS
ABOUT THE BLUES (43-28-8): Vladimir Tarasenko scored his third goal in five games on Monday to boost his team-leading total to 31, with four spread over a pair of two-goal performances against Chicago in October. Brayden Schenn also tallied twice in a 4-3 overtime loss at Chicago on Oct. 13 and had two assists in St. Louis' 7-3 romp over the Blackhawks two weeks later. Ryan O'Reilly secured a pair of three-point efforts versus Chicago in that month for the Blues, who were unable to benefit from those explosive performances en route to losing three of the four meetings this season between the teams.
ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS (34-33-12): Captain Jonathan Toews scored and set up a goal for the second time in three outings on Monday to push his career-high point total to 78. The 30-year-old matched his personal-best total in goals with 34, with three coming right out of the gate as he completed a hat trick by scoring 2:20 into overtime of Chicago's 5-4 win over St. Louis on Oct. 6. Alex DeBrincat set up a pair of goals in that contest and tallied twice one week later in a 5-4 overtime victory versus the Blues.
1. Chicago RW Patrick Kane has recorded seven (four goals, three assists) of his 105 points versus St. Louis this season.
2. Binnington beat out C Robert Thomas for NHL Rookie of the Month honors for March, with the latter collecting 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 15 games.
3. Blackhawks G Corey Crawford has yielded 11 goals in his last three contests after surrendering 13 in his previous nine appearances.
PREDICTION: Blues 3, Blackhawks 1