Blues look to continue success at home vs. Jets

BY foxsports • December 2, 2016

ST. LOUIS -- When the St. Louis Blues went through an offensive drought earlier this season, coach Ken Hitchcock and the players did not believe there was any reason to panic.

It turned out they were right.

After scoring just two or fewer goals eight times in a nine-game stretch from Oct. 25 to Nov. 10, the Blues have turned around and scored three or more in each of their last nine contests, including a 5-4 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.

That win was the sixth in a row at home for the Blues, who will try to extend that streak on Saturday night against the Winnipeg Jets.

"We had a tough time from you guys (the media) and it was so many bad words about our offense," said right winger Vladimir Tarasenko, who registered the third regular-season hat trick of his career on Thursday.

"But we just keep working. We just fight for each other every game and try to stay on our program. The most important thing is we believe in each other. We believe in our game."

Three of their goals against the Lightning came on the power play. They had nearly 10 minutes of power-play time on seven opportunities and have converted 6 of 17 opportunities with a man advantage in their last four wins.

Alexander Steen, returning to the lineup after missing six games because of an upper-body injury, moved to center on a line with Tarasenko and left winger Robby Fabbri. He made his biggest contribution on the power play, earning three assists.

"It helped obviously to get some power plays in the beginning, to get a feel for the puck," Steen said. "It felt pretty good."

While the Blues' power-play has been clicking, and the team has been playing well at home, the Jets come into Saturday night's game going in the opposite direction.

Winnipeg allowed three power-play goals in a loss to Edmonton on Thursday night and is riding a five-game losing streak on the road coming into a weekend when it will play the Blues in St. Louis followed by a game against the Blackhawks in Chicago on Sunday, both Central Division rivals.

"It's a huge weekend," Jets center Mathieu Perreault said.

Coach Paul Maurice knows the Jets will have to improve their play if they hope to have success in their next two games.

"We didn't check hard enough and we weren't physical by any means," Maurice said after Thursday night's loss. "Three (power-play) goals are a function of the 5-on-5 game. We didn't defend hard or quick enough. Pucks at our net, we were late getting back to them and they were banging in rebounds."

Backup Carter Hutton will start in goal for the Blues, who are 9-0-2 in their last 11 home games.

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