The Vancouver Canucks have won three of four and nine of their last 13 games and are 2-1 on a four-game road trip that ends tonight in St. Louis against the Blues. Vancouver recorded a shootout win in its last game -- a 5-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday.
Mason Raymond scored in the second round of the shootout to help lift the Canucks. Alexander Edler, Jannik Hansen, Manny Malhotra and Ryan Kesler lit the lamp for the Canucks, while Cory Schneider made 27 saves for the victors.
The victory improved Vancouver to 15-9-1 as the guest this season.
Vancouver defenseman Sami Salo missed the last game with a concussion suffered Saturday on an illegal hit by Boston's Brad Marchand, who was given a five- game suspension for the low check. Salo is out indefinitely.
The Blues, meanwhile, will take aim at their longest winning streak in over a year when they host the Western Conference-leading Canucks tonight.
The Blues have won four straight for the third time this season and tonight they'll try for the first five-game winning streak since Dec. 21-31, 2010. St. Louis enters tonight tied with Chicago for first place in the Central Division and the clubs are just two points behind Vancouver for the top seed in the West.
St. Louis' current winning streak began with a perfect 3-0 homestand and the Blues kept it going with Tuesday's victory in Montreal. Tonight's test kicks off a five-game homestand, as the Blues try to improve upon their stellar 17-3-2 record in the Gateway City.
One thing learned from the Blues' victory in Montreal is that Canadiens fans still adore St. Louis goaltender Jaroslav Halak. The crowd at the Bell Centre gave the former Habs backstop a standing ovation following St. Louis' 3-0 victory over the Canadiens.
Playing at the Bell Centre for the first time since being traded to the Blues, Halak needed to make only 19 saves to post his second shutout of the season. The reason for the warm reception goes back to Halak's heroics in leading the eighth-seeded Canadiens to the Eastern Conference finals in 2010.
Halak outperformed Carey Price, the fifth overall pick in the 2005 draft, but Montreal decided to part ways with the pending restricted free agent, shipping him to St. Louis for Lars Eller and Ian Schultz shortly after the season.
"It's good to see I have so many fans in Montreal, and I appreciate what they did for me in this special game. Right now it's a great feeling," Halak said.
David Backes and Chris Stewart set up each other's goals, while Jason Arnott also tallied in St. Louis' second shutout in a row. Brian Elliott, who has overtaken Halak as the No. 1 goalie for the Blues, needed to make just 15 saves to blank visiting Colorado on Saturday.
Elliott is expected to get the start over Halak tonight.
Blues defenseman Barret Jackman left Tuesday's game with a hip injury and is questionable for this evening's tilt.
The Blues have won both meetings against the Canucks this year, winning a game at home and on the road. St. Louis has taken three of four and four of the last six encounters overall, and Vancouver has lost two straight and four of six in Missouri.
Aaron Rome-Vigneault makes his return after a 12 game absence due to a broken finger. Keith Ballard sits which will make quite a few of the local posters happy. This feels like a repeat of last year where the coaching staff's management of Ballard seems questionable at best. Ballard hasn't been the player we all hoped for, but there's not way he's any less effective than all three of Rome, Alberts and Sulzer in what should be a big game for the Canucks against a big conference opponent that has already beaten them twice this season.
How GMMG keeps Ballard at this point is beyond me. He hasn't been a perfect player but he doesn't deserve to be a healthy scratch over three depth defensemen.
Roberto Luongo is expected to start and David Booth still isn't ready to go.