Blues-Wild Preview

The St. Louis Blues haven’t slowed down despite playing without

their top two goal scorers. They may be able to get by again

Tuesday night when they visit a Minnesota Wild team that will be

looking to avoid six straight regulation losses for the first time

in franchise history.

St. Louis (26-7-5) hasn’t had leading goal scorer Alexander

Steen on the ice since Dec. 21 at Edmonton because of a concussion,

and David Backes sat out Sunday’s 3-2 overtime win in Dallas

because of an upper-body injury.

Steen has scored 24 goals and Backes 16, but the Blues haven’t

had trouble putting the puck in the net lately. They scored six

times against the Oilers despite Steen leaving the game and beat

Chicago 6-5 in a shootout Saturday.

St. Louis is 2-0-1 in the three games without Steen, part of a

7-1-2 stretch since Dec. 10.

The Blues trailed the Blackhawks by two before scoring twice in

the last 3:51 of regulation to extend the game, and Kevin

Shattenkirk’s power-play goal with 11 seconds left in OT gave St.

Louis the victory over the Stars.

“Yeah, I think we’re happy with getting four points out of

four,” left wing Jaden Schwartz, who has scored in each of the last

five games, told the team’s official website. “Pretty gutsy wins by

us, a nice comeback win last night and kind of a character win for

us tonight. So it’s definitely nice getting that extra point both

nights.”

St. Louis, which is 12-0-1 against Central Division opponents,

got 28 saves from Brian Elliott on Sunday. Elliott, who took over

for an ineffective Jaroslav Halak after the first period against

the Blackhawks, is 5-0-1 with a 1.77 goals-against average this

month.

The Blues did get forward Vladimir Sobotka back Sunday after he

missed two weeks with an upper-body injury. He had two assists,

including one on Shattenkirk’s winner.

“(Sobotka) is a player that you can rely on in every situation.

He’s just a great player all around,” said Schwartz, who has taken

Steen’s spot on the top line. “It was a big jump for us and a big

positive leap getting him back in the lineup.”

Steen scored twice, Sobotka added a goal and Halak stopped 22

shots as St. Louis beat the visiting Wild 3-0 on Nov. 25 for its

sixth straight win in the series.

Minnesota (20-16-5) enters this matchup on a five-game losing

streak after blowing a three-goal lead and falling 5-4 at home to

the New York Islanders on Sunday. The Wild have allowed 24 goals

during the skid and are 3-8-0 in their last 11 games.

“It was there for us. That’s the disturbing part,” coach Mike

Yeo said. “It’s hard to find the words for this because this is

beyond disturbing right now. We have to find a way to win that

game. You’re up 3-0 and you’re at home. There’s no excuses.”

Minnesota hasn’t lost six in a row overall since an 0-5-2 slide

Feb. 4-18, 2012.

“There’s a lot that’s between the ears right now that we have to

fix,” Yeo said.