Blues-Hurricanes Preview

The St. Louis Blues are one of the hottest teams in the NHL, and the Carolina Hurricanes already got a first-hand look at what they’re capable of offensively.

A change of venue could be just what Carolina needs this time.

The Blues attempt to continue their surge and scoring barrage Friday night, when they try to beat the improving Hurricanes on the road for just the second time in seven tries.

St. Louis (30-13-4) is averaging 3.15 goals, tying the New York Islanders for second in the league. The Blues, though, have been even better lately, scoring 4.44 goals per game during an 8-0-1 stretch after dropping six of the previous seven and finding the net more than three times only once.

Their outstanding offensive play was vital Thursday, when they erased a two-goal deficit before emerging with a 5-4 shootout win over Central Division-leading Nashville.

St. Louis trails the Predators by four points.

"We hate to relinquish a point to these guys, but we’re staying on a roll," defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said after converting the winning tiebreak attempt. "I think we had a pretty solid game. They never really die and they never quit, so it was a great way for us to stay with it and finally get one on them."

Four players scored in regulation for St. Louis on Thursday and that was also the case in a 5-4 shootout win over Carolina (17-25-5) on Jan. 10.

T.J. Oshie scored the decisive attempt in the tiebreaker before netting another against the Predators. The right wing has also been effective before the shootout, scoring goals in three straight games and collecting 17 points in his last 13.

He’s failed to score in three visits to Raleigh, but has managed two assists.

Scoring has been an issue there for the Blues, who have lost five of six there while totaling four goals in those defeats.

David Backes, however, has two goals in four road meetings with the Hurricanes, one coming in a 3-1 defeat Jan. 31. The center also had a pair of assists in last month’s win.

Like the Blues, the Hurricanes are hot, but that’s been an exception to the norm.

Carolina, last in the Metropolitan Division, has put together a 7-2-1 stretch while averaging 2.70 goals after scoring 1.61 per game while dropping 18 of the previous 23.

The Hurricanes have totaled 11 goals during a three-game winning streak, one shy of their season high set from Nov. 1-7.

A strong start got them closer to matching that run Tuesday, scoring twice in the opening 6:05 of an eventual 4-2 win over Tampa Bay.

"Playing catch-up hockey is losing hockey in this league," coach Bill Peters said. "We want to start on time. It’s part of the culture we want to establish, and we’ve done that here recently.

"It’s been a good month. Guys have improved and we’ve continued to grow. It’s all a process and a plan and we’ll just continue to work the plan."

Anton Khudobin had 28 saves Tuesday, and he’s certainly a big part of those plans while Cam Ward remains on the bench. Khudobin is expected to start a fourth straight game, and he owns a 1.44 goals-against average while winning a career-best six starts in a row.

He made 27 stops in a 3-1 home win over St. Louis on Jan. 31.

Eric Staal, who has three goals and an assist in his last two games, also tallied in this month’s loss to St. Louis.