Blues head into Panthers clash with a deep roster despite injuries
Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen have been St. Louis’ constant scoring threats, but the Blues also have had to rely on offensive production from unexpected places given the number of injuries that have plagued the club.
That depth has helped them pull out some close victories.
St. Louis looks to win a seventh straight meeting with Florida and prevent the visiting Panthers from winning a third consecutive game for the first time this season Tuesday night.
Paul Stastny recently returned after missing more than a month with a broken foot, but Jaden Schwartz hasn’t played since Oct. 20 after going on injured reserve with a fractured left ankle.
Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who has two goals and eight assists during an eight-game point streak, also missed 10 games earlier with a lower-body injury, and Steve Ott sat out six with an upper-body issue.
St. Louis (15-6-3) largely has been able to overcome those problems, going 8-1-3 in one-goal games and losing back-to-back contests just twice all year. Scottie Upshall, who was a healthy scratch in an overtime loss to Pittsburgh on Wednesday, scored the tiebreaking goal in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Columbus.
"We started the season with a hard, hard road trip. That was exhausting," Ott told the team’s official website. "Then you top it off with the amount of injuries that we’ve had. Not just your run-of-the-mill hockey players, your most key guys."
Tarasenko scored his team-high 14th goal on the power play before assisting on Steen’s empty-netter. Steen and Shattenkirk assisted on Tarasenko’s goal.
Upshall’s goal was his fourth of the season in 18 games, reaching half of his total in 63 games with Florida last season. He spent 4 1/2 years with the Panthers, setting a career high with 37 points in 2013-14.
"Just a good chemistry among the four lines (Saturday) and a big team win," Upshall said. "Our best players were our best players."
Upshall could remain in the lineup against his former team, which hasn’t beaten the Blues since Oct. 31, 2009.
The Panthers (10-9-4), though, are coming off back-to-back victories, beating the New York Islanders 3-2 in a shootout Friday before beginning a five-game road trip with Sunday’s 2-1 overtime win over Detroit.
Brian Campbell assisted on Reilly Smith’s tying goal late in the third period before netting the winner 1:20 into OT.
"It’s a nice way to start it because we have a lot of good opponents coming up," Smith said. "It’s good to get a win and get our confidence up right at the start."
Roberto Luongo made 28 saves and has a 1.96 goals-against average over his last five starts. He has a 2.13 GAA in his career against the Blues, including the postseason.
Florida has failed in its three previous attempts to win a third straight contest.
"We want to keep building off what we’ve done," Luongo said. "(St. Louis) is another test for us. We just want to play the way we have the last couple games and put ourselves in position to be successful."
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock announced Jake Allen will be in net for the 15th time in 17 games. Allen, who has a 2.04 GAA on the season, has never faced the Panthers.
Florida forward Jaromir Jagr, who has team highs with eight goals and 18 points, needs one more point to tie Marcel Dionne for fourth all-time. His five-game point streak came to an end Sunday.
- Alexander Steen
- Brian Campbell
- FOX Sports Midwest
- Jaden Schwartz
- Jake Allen
- Jaromir Jagr
- Kevin Shattenkirk
- Paul Stastny
- Reilly Smith
- Roberto Luongo
- Scottie Upshall
- St. Louis Blues
- Steve Ott
- Vladimir Tarasenko