Preview: Blues at Flames
The St. Louis Blues will look to avoid a fourth straight setback Tuesday when they continue a four-game road trip through Canada with a matchup against the Calgary Flames. The Central Division-leading Blues are being inserted into a crowded Pacific Division playoff race as they lost 3-1 on Monday to Vancouver, which owns a three-point lead in the division over four teams - Edmonton, Calgary Arizona and Vegas.
The Blues came out firing against the Canucks after a nine-day layoff as left wing Zach Sanford scored his fifth of the season at 3:06, but St. Louis suffered a loss in regulation for the first time this season after scoring the opening goal (22-1-6) - the last NHL team to do so. The Blues did everything they could to pad their six-point lead in the Central Division over the Avalanche as they peppered 37 shots on net against Vancouver with Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz leading the way with five apiece. The Flames will return to action Tuesday after a 10-day break and know they can’t look too far ahead if they plan on keeping pace with their division rivals and securing a playoff spot. “For us, we’re always going to keep the picture small. I think that’s really important,” Flames interim coach Geoff Ward told reporters Monday. “You don’t want to focus on what’s down the road, you want to focus on what’s right in front of you. We’ve got an excellent hockey team coming here tomorrow to play us and we’ve got to be ready.”
TIME: 9 p.m. ET. TV: FS Midwest, Sportsnet West, Sportsnet Pacific
ABOUT THE BLUES (30-12-8): Right wing David Perron increased his team-leading point total to 50 with an assist on Sanford’s marker Monday and has nine goals and 11 assists in his last 16 games, having only been held off the scoresheet in three of those contests. After missing six games during his first 4 1/2 seasons, defenseman Colton Parayko logged 19:37 of ice time in his return to the lineup Monday after missing the previous seven contests with an upper-body injury. Goaltender Jake Allen made 23 saves in Monday’s loss and is expected to hand the crease over Tuesday to Jordan Binnington, whose 22 wins are third-most in the league.
ABOUT THE FLAMES (26-19-5): Left wings Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk are tied for the team lead with 38 points apiece and while the former has been held pointless in three straight contests, the latter has failed to record a point in five straight and seven of his last eight. Elias Lindholm has potted a team-best 20 goals but has only six in 21 games since the beginning of December. Goaltender David Rittich is 2-4-0 with a .892 save percentage and 3.44 goals against average over his last six appearances and surrendered all five goals while making 26 saves during a 5-0 setback to the Blues on Nov. 21.
1. St. Louis has allowed the seventh-fewest goals per game this season (2.68), but in January has allowed the seventh-most (3.33).
2. Blues LW Alexander Steen will suit up in his 745th contest with the team Tuesday, passing Brett Hull for fourth-most in franchise history.
3. The Flames called up RW Buddy Robinson from the AHL’s Stockton Heat - where he had a team-leading 16 goals in 40 games – and the 28-year-old is expected to compete Tuesday in his first NHL contest since the 2016-17 season when he was with the Senators.
PREDICTION: Blues 5, Flames 2