Preview: Blues at Rangers
The St. Louis Blues have a chance to match their longest winning streak of the season but they still have been unable to shake the surging Colorado Avalanche in the Central Division. The defending Stanley Cup champions take aim at their eighth consecutive victory when they open a four-game road trip with a visit to the New York Rangers on Tuesday night.
The Blues had lost five in a row and 10 of 12 (2-7-3) before their current winning streak, which they kept intact with a 4-3 shootout victory over division rival Dallas on Saturday. "You win seven, eight in a row three times, it means you're winning games where you're probably not playing your best hockey," coach Craig Berube said. "You've got to find ways to win games without playing your best game. We've done a pretty good job of that." The Rangers had been on a tear of their own, going 9-1-0 over a 10-game span before losing both ends of a home-and-home series against the Philadelphia Flyers. "We have a lot of games left," center Mika Zibanejad said after Sunday's 5-3 loss kept New York four points out of the two wild-card spots. "We have to tighten things up and get to playing the way we can."
TIME: 7 p.m. ET. TV: MSG, FS Midwest
ABOUT THE BLUES (39-17-10): Ryan O'Reilly collected his 46th assist to move within three of his career high before scoring the lone goal in the shootout against Dallas. "We're lucky to have a guy like that who can kind of do it all," forward Tyler Bozak said of last season's Conn Smythe Trophy winner. "Penalty kill, can play in defensive situations and obviously on the power play and shootouts and stuff." Brayden Schenn answered a nine-game goal drought by scoring in four straight to give him 24 on the season -- four shy of his career best.
ABOUT THE RANGERS (35-26-4): While Artemi Panarin was elevated to the top line in the third period of Sunday's loss, Phillip Di Giuseppe skated alongside Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich at Monday's practice in place of the injured Chris Kreider. "He's got that hard-working mentality," coach David Quinn said of Di Giuseppe. "He gets to the net, he plays at a pace, he can create a room for Buchy and for Mika." Zibanejad, the NHL's Second Star for February, has pumped home 10 goals in 11 games to establish a career best with 32.
1. Blues F Vladimir Tarasenko, out since Oct. 24 due to shoulder surgery, practiced fully Monday but did not participate in contact drills.
2. Panarin is riding a career-high 13 game point streak, reaching 90 for the first time.
3. St. Louis joined Montreal (1977-78) as the only Stanley Cup champion to post three winning streaks of at least seven games the following season.
PREDICTION: Blues 4, Rangers 2