The St. Louis Blues have a chance to start a season with four straight wins for the first time in franchise history, and it’s coming against a team that has been outscored 15-2 in its last two games.
The visiting New York Rangers face St. Louis on Saturday night having allowed 20 goals in four games after ranking fourth in the league in goals against last season.
The Blues have outscored opponents 14-4 to win the first three of a season-opening five-game homestand. They have won nine straight regular-season games on their own ice, including Wednesday’s 3-2 victory over Chicago.
Alexander Steen scored with 21.1 seconds left in the third period to help the Blues match their 1969-70 and 1993-94 season starts.
“You just knew the way the game was going to go, somebody was going to get an odd-man rush because both teams gave up a few today,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock told the team’s official website. “They had a breakaway and three 2-on-1s and we had two 2-on-1s and three or four 3-on-2s or 4-on-2s. The game was so revved up, you got caught in no-man’s land a few times.
“We got a lot out of this game, a lot of information moving forward, stuff that’s a learning curve of how to play against really good teams like Chicago. Hopefully, this helps us moving forward.”
St. Louis’ Jaroslav Halak made 28 saves and allowed two power-play goals. He hasn’t given up an even-strength goal since the second period of the opener against Nashville.
“We knew it was going to be a big game for our guys,” Halak said. “Playing Chicago is always a big game. I think our guys came up big today and played for 60 minutes. That was the key tonight: stick to the game plan and not to give up.”
The Blues have eight players with three points or more, led by defenseman Alex Pietrangelo’s five assists. Steen has three goals and an assist.
The Blues are 26-6-5 against the Eastern Conference since 2010-11. They’ve won five of six against the Rangers, including 4-1 in the last meeting Dec. 15, 2011, at home. Steen scored and had an assist in that game and has seven points in his last five against New York.
The Rangers (1-3-0) will again be without forward Rick Nash, who will miss two more games with a head injury he suffered in Tuesday’s 9-2 loss at San Jose. Nash, who has assisted on three of the Rangers’ six goals, has 39 points in 49 games against St. Louis.
Brad Richards leads New York with three goals, and he has two goals and 18 assists in 18 games against the Blues.
The Rangers hadn’t lost by six goals since Jan. 23, 2010, at Montreal, and it happened again Thursday when they fell 6-0 at Anaheim.
“There’s just no pride going on right now in our defensive zone,” captain Ryan Callahan said.
Saturday’s game is the fifth in a season-opening nine-game road trip for the Rangers and new coach Alain Vigneault.
“We’re being tested as a group, being challenged, and it’s up to me as head coach to get this team to play well and that’s what I’m going to do,” Vigneault said.
Henrik Lundqvist, a Vezina Trophy finalist last season after winning the award in 2011-12, has started every game and allowed 15 goals. He gave up 16 goals in his first four games in 2006-07 before going on to be a Vezina finalist.