Blues, Wings battle for position in West
Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 2:08 AM
Pete Jensen - NHL.com Staff Writer BLUES (21-10-4) at RED WINGS (22-12-1)
: VERSUS, TSN2, FS-D (HD)
: St. Louis 7-2-1; Detroit 6-4-0.
: Tuesday's clash marks the third of six meetings this season between these Central division foes. St. Louis pulled out one-goal victories in each of the prior head-to-head matchups with Detroit at Scottrade Center on Nov. 15 and Dec. 6.
: Detroit hopes to avenge two road losses to the Blues as the season series shifts to Joe Louis Arena – where the Red Wings own a daunting 13-2-1 mark this season. Detroit, which trails St. Louis by a point in the standings, heads back home after snapping a two-game losing skid with a 4-1 win against the Nashville Predators on Monday. St. Louis, meanwhile, takes a two-game win streak into enemy territory after holding off the Dallas Stars, 5-3, on Monday.
: St. Louis, with three wins in its last four games, hopes to keep rolling under coach Ken Hitchcock after improving to 15-3-4 under his watch with a home win over Dallas on Monday. The Blues took a 4-1 lead early in the third period on Evgeny Grachev's first goal of the season only to see Dallas score two unanswered to draw within a goal. But Chris Stewart notched an empty-netter, his second goal of the game, to close out the Blues' sixth straight home win.
Jaroslav Halak defeated the Stars for the first time of his career, stopping 20 of 23 shots on the night. Adam Cracknell, who was recalled earlier in the day to replace the injured T.J. Oshie, scored his first goal of the season in the win.
"We had some guys that needed to step up, and I think we did a good job of that," said David Perron, who dished out two assists in the win. "[Grachev] was one of them that stepped up and got a big goal for us. We've just got to keep going. It's only one game for us. It's another win and we've got to keep it going."
: Detroit dictated its own pace on Monday night in a convincing win in Nashville, thanks largely due to the strong play of Jimmy Howard
. The 27-year-old netminder stopped 31 of 32 shots to earn his League-leading 21st win of the season. Valtteri Filppula
tallied twice to shoulder the load offensively as the Red Wings scored four unanswered to put the game out of reach in the final period.
"We did a great job of countering them in the first 10 minutes," Howard told the Associated Press. "The Predators do a great job early, but we came out mentally refreshed. We didn't look gassed or anything like that."
: Chris Stewart has compiled three goals in as many games for St. Louis. Perron has accumulated 10 points in as many games since returning from a concussion. … Pavel Datsyuk
has reeled off three goals and nine assists in his last nine games.
: Kent Huskins (ankle), B.J. Crombeen (scapula), Vladimir Sobotka (ankle) and Andy McDonald (concussion) are on injured reserve for St. Louis. Oshie (wrist) and Jamie Langenbrunner (flu-like symptoms) missed Monday's game for the Blues. … Chris Conner
(hand) is day-to-day for Detroit. Red Wings forward Tomas Holmstrom
(lower body) sat out the third period of Monday's game against the Predators.
: The Blues' victory against the Stars helped St. Louis improve to 16-0-0 when scoring three or more goals in a game this season.
: "We loved our effort [Monday], loved our compete," Hitchcock told NHL.com. "It's little things that we can pick up as we move forward. It'll really help us down the line."