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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, February 18th (All times eastern)

St. Louis Blues (25-21-9) at Buffalo Sabres (27-23-6), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Blues know they have a lot of work to do if they want to become contenders for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. The loss of their No. 1 goaltender won't help things, though.

St. Louis is aiming to win consecutive games for the first time in the new year, but will do so tonight without Jaroslav Halak as it visits the Buffalo Sabres and HSBC Arena.

Halak made 23 saves in Monday's 3-2 victory over the Canucks, just the Blues' third win in 10 games as the club is nine points back of a playoff spot. Patrik Berglund, Andy McDonald and Alex Steen had the goals.

"[Halak] had a great game for us," McDonald said. "Everything went well for us tonight, and we're going to need more of that if we're going to get in the playoffs."

The layoff between games wasn't kind to the Blues, though, after Halak suffered a right hand injury in practice on Wednesday. He was placed on injured reserve the following day and is 19-17-6 with a 2.63 goals-against average and .907 save percentage in 43 starts this year.

Halak's injury means Ty Conklin should get the start tonight with the recalled Ben Bishop as the backup for the Blues, who have lost seven of their last nine on the road. Conklin has very good career numbers against the Sabres, going 6-1-0 with a 1.70 goals-against average. He gave up just seven goals in winning his first six decisions, but was tagged for five goals in last season's 5-3 home setback.

That victory was the Sabres' second in a row versus the Blues after posting 10 losses and a pair of ties in the previous 12 meetings.

Buffalo snapped that slide with a home win on Nov. 12, 2008 to also break an eight-game winless streak at home (six losses, two ties) against St. Louis.

The Sabres come into this meeting two points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and had a five-game point streak (4-0-1) end with Wednesday's 2-1 setback to the Maple Leafs.

"Their energy was better than ours," said Buffalo head coach Lindy Ruff.

Paul Gaustad had the goal and Ryan Miller made 28 saves. Miller returned to action after being given the night off on Tuesday to snap his string of 31 straight starts.

He has split two career starts versus the Blues, allowing seven goals on 65 shots for a 3.52 GAA.

The Sabres lost the opener of a six-game homestand, their longest of the season, and fell to 12-13-2 as the host this year.

02/18 10:35:25 ET


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