Devils-Blues Preview

BY foxsports • January 11, 2016

The beat-up St. Louis Blues have been working long and frequent hours recently, so they might not be particularly fresh in their next game even after two days off.

The Blues have put in plenty of extra time during a four-game point streak, and they'll be looking for their first back-to-back wins of the new year when they face the similarly banged-up New Jersey Devils to open a four-game homestand.

St. Louis (24-14-7) stopped a five-game skid with a 2-1 shootout victory over Los Angeles on Saturday. Alex Pietrangelo tied it in the second period and Troy Brouwer got the deciding goal in the seventh round of the tiebreaker for the Blues, who have gone to two straight shootouts after dropping their previous two games in overtime.

Their just-completed three-game trip took place over four nights.

"It's four games in a row now that we have really dug in," coach Ken Hitchcock told the team's official website. "You get into overtime or extra time and you are going to win some and lose some. We now have played really well for four or five games in a row. We just have to keep it going."

St. Louis won without center Paul Stastny and defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, both of whom suffered upper-body injuries in a 4-3 shootout loss to Anaheim on Friday.

"We've put a lot of work in and a lot of effort in," center David Backes said. "Now we've found that second point and it feels like a good reward for a great effort against a team that was rested and really came at us hard. We responded really well."

Hitchcock announced that Stastny is day to day, while Bouwmeester, along with Carl Gunnarsson and Magnus Paajarvi with the same injury, are week to week.

St. Louis will be trying to avoid a third consecutive home defeat by beating New Jersey for the third straight time at Scottrade Center. The Blues won 4-3 in the most recent such meeting Nov. 6, 2014.

They took the first matchup this season 2-0 on Nov. 10 behind 24 saves from Jake Allen, who's been put on injured reserve after leaving the Ducks game with a knee injury. Brian Elliott, expected to start for the second straight time after making 26 saves against the Kings, has a 1.96 goals-against average in his last nine games.

The Devils (21-17-5) beat Minnesota 2-1 on Sunday to snap a three-game skid. Defenseman Jon Merrill scored his first goal in 82 games for the third-period winner and Adam Henrique got his 15th of the season for New Jersey, which opened a four-game trip.

New Jersey's goal total against the Wild matched that of its previous three games. The club's 2.21 goals per contest is second to last in the league.

The Devils have also been hit hard by injuries. Leading scorer Mike Cammalleri has missed five straight games, the club is also without Patrik Elias, and Jiri Tlusty was placed on injured reserve this week.

Four players in Sunday's lineup had played a combined six NHL games this season as promoted reinforcements.

"This is the time where you need guys to step up," Henrique said. "There's a lot of opportunity for guys coming in the lineup and getting more of a chance to play. We need guys to take advantage of that."

Cory Schneider, 3-3-0 in his last six starts despite a 1.68 GAA, is expected to be in net for New Jersey. He's 3-4-1 with a 1.93 mark in nine career matchups with the Blues after making 26 saves Nov. 10.