The St. Louis Blues have proven unbeatable over the last two weeks thanks in large part to emerging star Vladimir Tarasenko.
The New Jersey Devils can’t be looking forward to facing him again.
Tarasenko and the Blues try to match their longest winning streak from all of last season as they close a home-and-home set against the visiting Devils on Thursday night.
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St. Louis (8-3-1) has allowed 10 goals during a six-game run since falling 4-1 to Vancouver on Oct. 23. Tarasenko has led the charge with seven goals and two assists over the last five games, giving him a team-best 14 points.
"Vladdy is on a hot streak right now and he’s proving to everyone how good of a player he can be," goalie Jake Allen said of the 22-year-old. "He is definitely leading this team right now."
Tarasenko was at it again Tuesday, providing all the offense in a 1-0 win at New Jersey. Allen finished with 26 saves in his second consecutive shutout, improving to 3-1-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average.
"We’re playing a good team game right now from our goaltending on out," forward Jaden Schwartz told the league’s official website. "We’re playing as a team and sticking to our systems. We’re getting big performances from our goalies, goal-scorers and role players.
"And with the way (Tarasenko) is shooting the puck, it’s to a point where you think he’s going to score every game."
The Blues won seven straight Dec. 28-Jan. 9. They have blanked the Devils three times over a six-game stretch in the series, going 5-1-0.
New Jersey (6-4-2) had posted back-to-back wins over Winnipeg and Columbus before suffering its first shutout Tuesday. Cory Schneider recorded 22 saves but the Devils went 0 for 3 on the power play.
"We’ve obviously got to find a way to score a goal," coach Peter DeBoer said. "We have some offensive players on the sidelines, and we have to find a way with the guys that are in there to get in front of the net a little bit more, get to paint a little bit more, find an ugly one – that’s got to be the message."
"They’re fast, physical, you’re dealing with a lot of things with (St. Louis). They’re one of the top teams in the league. … We just have to make sure we stick with it."
Adam Henrique leads the Devils with nine points despite notching just two in the last six games.
Veteran forward Patrik Elias has gone 11 games without a goal, while Michael Ryder has one in that same span.
Schneider is expected to make his 13th consecutive start to open the season. He’s posted a 2.67 GAA, including a 4.92 mark in his last three road games.
Schneider is 3-3-1 with a 1.71 GAA against the Blues dating to his days with Vancouver.
The Devils will again be without forwards Michael Cammalleri (upper body) and Martin Havlat (lower body), as well as defenseman Jon Merrill (upper body). Right wing Jordin Tootoo (foot) will travel with the team on its upcoming three-game road trip but isn’t certain to suit up Thursday.
Blues forward Paul Stastny will return after missing eight games with a shoulder injury, while T.J. Oshie remains out with a concussion.