Blues play host to flickering Flames
BLUES (22-21-8) at FLAMES (26-19-6)
St. Louis 5-3-2; Calgary 2-7-1
Fourth and final meeting of the regular season. St. Louis has won two of the first three matchups. Each team has won once on its opponent's home ice in a game that went beyond regulation. Calgary started the season series with a 2-1 overtime win at the Scottrade Center on Nov. 5. St. Louis won 4-3 at home on Dec. 15 and 2-1 in a shootout at the Pengrowth Saddledome on Dec. 23.
The Blues are currently outside the top eight in the Western Conference. The Flames are on the verge of joining them if they don't figure out in a hurry how to escape the tailspin that has sent them on a six-game losing streak. They begin play Monday tied with Detroit for the eighth and final playoff spot.
"We've got to just look forward to that next game and move ahead," veteran forward Craig Conroy said. "If you dwell on the past it's going to eat you up. It's tough. We know the mistakes -- we've watched them, we've seen them and now it's time to not make those mistakes and get ready for St. Louis and start putting a good stretch together. That's what we need, we need a good run here and get ourselves back in the playoffs."
When you're six points out of the playoffs with five teams to climb over to get there, as St. Louis is, you can't afford to give even single points away. That's essentially what happened to the Blues on Saturday night, when they took a 3-0 lead early in the third period on home ice against the Ducks, then gave up the next three goals and lost 4-3 in a seven-round shootout. The fact Anaheim is one of the teams they're chasing only made the end result more painful.
"It's the same old story," forward Andy McDonald
told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "We just came out flat in the third period. It seems like we're not attacking. They just took it to us. We were reacting to what they were doing instead of initiating. You can't do that. You've got to keep your foot on the gas like we did in the first two periods."
Rock bottom came last Monday (or so Calgary hopes) with a 9-1 loss in San Jose. The next time the Flames played, their offense was still dormant but they played a much sharper overall game in a 3-1 loss to the Blackhawks. The score entering the third period was 1-1 and goalie Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 25 of 27 shots before an empty-netter sealed the defeat.
"It's frustrating," forward Eric Nystrom said, whose last goal came 34 games ago. "There's a bunch of us that haven't scored in a while. We've got to just shoot the puck and go to the net and that's something we haven't done enough of. We've just got to get back to that because there are some ugly goals that go in so there's no reason why we should shoot the puck."
Blues forward T.J. Oshie
has three goals and four assists in his last eight games. McDonald has nine goals in his last 16 games. … Flames forward Jamie Lundmark has two goals in his last three games and three in eight since being recalled from the AHL. He also had the decisive shootout goal in Calgary's last win.
St. Louis forward David Backes
(upper body) and defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo
(lower body) are day-to-day. Forward D.J. King
hasn't played since breaking his hand in an Oct. 24 game. … Calgary forward David Moss is on injured reserve for undisclosed reasons, while forward Nigel Dawes is day-to-day with a leg injury.
The Blues have scored the first goal in nine of their last 10 games. … Flames captain Jarome Iginla has gone 10 games without a goal and hasn't been held without one for 11 games since the start of the 1999-00 season.
Calgary is in desperate need of a win before this skid turns into a total freefall. St. Louis should come out a little angry after the way it lost to Anaheim. That should make for an entertaining battle.