Blues return home after extremely successful road trip
ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Blues will be back on home ice Thursday night for the first time in nearly two weeks, but that might not necessarily be good news.
During their extended stay on the road, the Blues went 5-0, capping the trip with a 2-0 shutout behind backup goalie Carter Hutton on Wednesday night in Detroit.
The five consecutive wins is the longest winning streak of the season for the Blues, who won three of the games by shutouts. It also is the first time in franchise history the Blues swept a road trip of five or more games.
Jake Allen, who struggled throughout January but won three of the games on the road trip, allowing a combined three goals, is expected to start in goal against the Vancouver Canucks in the Blues’ first home game since Feb. 4.
The Blues lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins that night, their only loss in seven games since the team made a coaching change, putting Mike Yeo in charge. In those seven games, the Blues have outscored their opponents 21-8, with four of those eight goals allowed coming in the Pittsburgh game.
“We’re a different team in here; we’re defending harder in our own zone,” Hutton told NHL.com. “It’s helping everybody.”
During the five-game winning streak, the Blues outscored their opponents 16-3.
“I love the way the guys competed and dug in,” Yeo said after Wednesday night’s win. “It wasn’t perfect, but there were a lot of things that were really good.”
While the Blues were playing in Detroit, the Canucks were resting in St. Louis. Playing without a couple of key players because of injuries, the Canucks were shut out 4-0 by the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night. It was the seventh time the Canucks have been shut out this season.
Centers Bo Horvat, the Canucks’ leading scorer, and Brandon Sutter, who is second in time on the ice among the team’s forwards, did not play after being hurt Sunday in Buffalo. Horvat is dealing with a foot injury and Sutter with an injury to his hand or wrist. Each is considered day-to-day, and it is not known if either will play against the Blues.
The Canucks trailed 1-0 after the second period before giving up three goals in the final 20 minutes.
“We were right there,” Jannik Hansen told the Vancouver Sun. “We were there until they scored their second or third goal, but it’s not like we didn’t have our chances.”
The injuries definitely affected the Canucks’ performance, said Jack Skille.
“You don’t really feel the pressure; you just want to do whatever you can do to help the team,” Skille told the Sun. “But missing guys, and being one of those guys that gets bumped up, you definitely want to cash in and step up for the team.”
The loss dropped the Canucks, battling for a wild-card playoff spot, to 2-3 on a six-game trip that ends in St. Louis.