(SportsNetwork.com) – The streaking St. Louis Blues will try to grab sole
possession of first place in the Central Division when they visit the Columbus
Blue Jackets Friday at Nationwide Arena.
The Blues won their seventh straight game on Thursday, blanking the Buffalo
Sabres, 3-0, to open a brief two-game road trip that ends tonight.
The club’s latest victory combined with Nashville’s regulation loss to Anaheim
allowed St. Louis to forge a tie with the Predators for the top spot in the
Central. Both teams have 72 points in 51 games and Nashville is idle on
Thursday’s victory in Buffalo also set a new club mark for longest point
streak, as St. Louis improved to 12-0-1 over its last 13 contests.
“We’re in the midst of a pretty good run,” said Blues captain David Backes
after Thursday’s triumph. “I think coaching staffs in general tend to push
harder when you’re in the midst of good runs and don’t want you getting
Jake Allen made 23 saves for his third shutout of the season to pick up the
win against the Sabres. It was Allen’s fourth career shutout and first since
he posted two in a row early in the season.
The Blues, who have matched a season high with seven wins in a row, received
goals from Dmitrij Jaskin, Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz.
Tarasenko has scored a goal in three straight games, while Schwartz has scored
in his last two outings and has two goals and two helpers over the last three
Brian Elliott will get the call for St. Louis and owns a 6-0-1 record and 1.98
goals against average in seven lifetime outings versus the Blue Jackets.
The Blue Jackets enter Friday mired in an 0-3-0 slide and the club’s 3-8-0
record over the last 11 games has seriously damaged the team’s already slim
playoff chances. Columbus currently finds itself 16 points out of a postseason
berth in the Eastern Conference with only 32 games remaining on its schedule.
Columbus has scored only four goals during its current three-game slide and
was handed a 4-1 setback Tuesday against the visiting Arizona Coyotes.
Mike Smith stopped 30 shots for the win, while James Wisniewski scored the
lone goal for the home team. Anton Forsberg made 25 saves in defeat.
“You’d think we’d be ready to play. It’s part of being a professional. We had
some guys that were, but not enough,” said Columbus head coach Todd Richards.
It was the fourth loss in the last five home games for the Jackets, who fell
to 10-13-2 this season at Nationwide Arena.
The Blue Jackets have not fared well against St. Louis in recent years, losing
two straight, five of six and 12 of the last 15 matchups in this series. The
Blues have claimed six of the past eight encounters in the Buckeye State.
Curtis McElhinney is expected to start in net tonight for Columbus. He has
never beaten the Blues, going 0-5-0 with a 4.91 GAA in this series.