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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Monday, January 18th (All times eastern)

St. Louis Blues (21-19-7) at Columbus Blue Jackets (18-23-9), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The streaking St. Louis Blues will aim for a fifth straight victory tonight, when they visit the rival Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.

The Blues are in the midst of their longest winning streak of the season, but are just four points ahead of the last-place Blue Jackets in the Central Division.

St. Louis lost its first three games following the firing of head coach of Andy Murray, but interim bench boss Davis Payne has been able to right the ship recently. Tonight, Payne and the Blues can notch their first five-game winning streak since March 20-29.

The Blues' current hot streak has been a product of excellent defense and goaltending. After beginning the run with a 4-3 win over Los Angeles, St. Louis has allowed just two goals over three games.

St. Louis recorded a 4-1 victory over the visiting New York Rangers on Saturday as Chris Mason stopped 21 shots in the win at Scottrade Center. Mason stopped 19 shots for his first shutout of the season in Thursday's 1-0 win over Minnesota.

Alexander Steen and Roman Polak each had a goal and an assist against the Rangers while David Perron also lit the lamp for the Blues. David Backes added an empty-net goal in the final moments of the game.

"We've struggled at home...so it's obviously a step in the right direction," Backes said. "The way we're playing is optimism at its best. We're getting our game together -- we're obviously not totally satisfied...when we play a full 60 minutes, we're going to be a team to be reckoned with."

The victory over the Rangers ended a three-game homestand for St. Louis, but the club will try to continue its winning ways when it kicks off a three-game road trip tonight. The Blues have a solid 12-5-4 record as the guest this season.

Columbus, meanwhile, has lost three straight games since tying a season high with a three-game winning streak from January 7-10. The last two losses came in a home-and-home sweep at the hands of the Central Division-leading Chicago Blackhawks.

Jonathan Toews scored a pair of third-period power-play goals, including the game-winner to lead the Blackhawks to a 6-5 victory in the finale Saturday at Nationwide Arena.

Rick Nash scored twice and Kristian Huselius picked up a goal and two assists for the Blue Jackets, who are just 4-12-4 in their last 20 games.

Raffi Torres and Kris Russell also had goals for Columbus, while Steve Mason was beaten for all six goals on 31 shots.

"It was a wide-open hockey game. I thought both teams' defenses were vulnerable. We had a lot of chances to score...we poured a lot into today and didn't get the result," said Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock.

Columbus, which will begin a three-game road trip tomorrow in Philadelphia, is 10-8-5 as the home team this season.

The Blue Jackets and St. Louis have split two meetings this year with each team winning a test on home ice. The Blues have taken nine of 11 overall in the series, but Columbus has taken two of three and six of nine on home ice.

01/18 11:02:09 ET

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