Bruins seek to find scoring against stingy Blues
BRUINS (35-20-2) at BLUES (36-16-7)
TV: NESN (HD), FS-MW (HD)
Boston 4-6-0; St. Louis 7-3-0
This is the only meeting of the season between the Bruins and Blues. They haven't played each other since Nov. 6, 2010, when T.J. Oshie
and Brad Boyes scored in the shootout to lead St. Louis to a 2-1 win in Boston.
Although the Bruins have four games in hand, their lead in the Northeast Division has shrunk to just two points over the Senators. The bigger concern, though, should be scoring more goals. A team that was an offensive juggernaut while tearing through its competition in November and December has been shutout four times in nine games this month. Boston figures to have its work cut out against a St. Louis squad whose 1.88 goals-against average leads the NHL.
Lack of effort could hardly be blamed for Boston getting shut out in Minnesota during "Hockey Day In America" on Sunday. The Bruins put 48 shots on Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom -- including 22 in the third period -- and had nothing to show for it but a 2-0 defeat. Second-period goals by Chad Rau and Matt Cullen a little over five minutes apart were all Tim Thomas allowed, as he finished with 27 saves. Tyler Seguin and Joe Corvo each fired six shots and David Krejci had five, but they and their teammates were left consistently shaking their heads.
"Like we've told the guys, we can either be bitter or better, and let's work on getting better here," coach Claude Julien said. "And that's what we're going to try to do here in the next few days."
Game in and game out, St. Louis continues to receive solid-to-spectacular goaltending from its tandem of Brian Elliott
and Jaroslav Halak
. Elliott blanked Minnesota on Saturday and was right back in net against Central rival Chicago on Sunday, where he extended his shutout streak to over 160 minutes as the Blackhawks carried a 1-0 lead into the third period. It came on the strength of an Andy McDonald
goal with 24 seconds left in the first, but the Blues never built on it and the Hawks rallied in the final 15:08 to hand them a 3-1 loss.
"We need to be better all around and not have it go down to 10 minutes left, where we're on our heels and they're really bringing the pressure to us," forward David Backes
said in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "It's a case of not sticking to our game long enough."
McDonald has scored in three consecutive games for the Blues. His linemates, Jamie Langenbrunner
and Patrik Berglund
, each have three-game assist streaks. Elliott saw his five-game win streak end Sunday, but still hasn't allowed more than two goals in a game since a Jan. 12 start against the Canucks.
Boston forward Rich Peverley is out 4-6 weeks with a sprained right MCL, while forward Nathan Horton remains on injured reserve with a concussion. … St. Louis placed Langenbrunner on injured reserve Tuesday due to a broken foot suffered in the game against Chicago. Halak, who didn't dress for the last two games because of the flu, is expected to be back in uniform. Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo
has missed three straight with a sprained wrist. Forwards Alex Steen
(concussion-like symptoms) and Matt D'Agostini
(head) are on injured reserve.
Despite the offensive slump, the Bruins remain second in the League with an average of 3.21 goals per game. … David Perron
is fourth on the Blues in scoring with 27 points despite having played in only 34 games this season.
There will be a pregame tribute to Keith Tkachuk
, who scored 208 of his 538 career goals during two stints for St. Louis from 2000-10 and was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in December. Tkachuk had 427 points in 543 games with the franchise.