Hot Blues host resurgent Penguins

ST. LOUIS — What a difference 48 hours has made for the St. Louis Blues.

On Thursday morning, the Blues faced a daunting back-to-back against Central Division rivals Colorado at home followed by a quick trip to Winnipeg. The team was also coming off one of the worst losses of the season, a 6-2 rout against Minnesota on Tuesday.

A prolonged slide and St. Louis could have been on the outside looking in amid a tight Central Division race.

Instead, the Blues answered with two of their most impressive efforts of the season, beating Colorado 6-1 and Winnipeg 5-2.

“We all said we needed to bounce back after that game,” Blues right winger Vladimir Tarasenko told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after Friday’s win. “It’s most important not only to say it but to do it. I think it was a really good effort with Colorado and tonight in this building, which may be one of hardest buildings to play in. We’re really happy to get a win today.”

Tarasenko snapped a six-game scoreless streak with two goals against the Jets and goalie Jake Allen made 20 saves to earn his first win since Dec. 23. Allen also passed Grant Fuhr for third on the all-time franchise win list with 109.

It was just the fourth time Winnipeg lost in regulation on home ice in 26 games this season, and the Blues (34-20-3), with 71 points, moved to within two points of the Jets for the Central Division lead.

St. Louis has won eight of its last 11 games.

The Blues will have no time to rest as they host the Pittsburgh Penguins, the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, on Sunday at noon EST.

The Blues beat the Penguins 5-4 in overtime at Pittsburgh on Oct. 4. St. Louis has earned points in four of its last five games against Pittsburgh.

However, the Blues did get bad news Friday morning as they will be without defensemen Joel Edmundson, who suffered a compound fracture of his right forearm against Colorado on Thursday. Edmundson, the team’s blocked shots leader at 125, will miss at least six weeks after undergoing surgery on Thursday.

The Penguins (30-22-4, 64 points) enter the contest coming off a 4-3 shootout loss in Dallas on Friday. They have won 11 of their last 16 games.

“Ideally, we would like to get two points,” Pittsburgh defenseman Ian Cole told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “but given the situation we were in, down one, to battle back and get a point, give ourselves a chance to win it in overtime or shootout was good. Didn’t happen today. We’re happy with the response and battle-back we had.”

The Penguins will look to re-establish their power play against the Blues. On Friday, Pittsburgh went scoreless with the man advantage for the third straight game, their longest drought since a four-game span from Dec. 11-18.

“I liked the power play tonight,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan told the Post-Gazette. “They had some pretty good looks. They just didn’t score.”