NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, January 3rd (All times Eastern)
Phoenix Coyotes (19-16-4) at St. Louis Blues (21-12-5), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The St. Louis Blues will try to snap their longest losing streak of the season when they host the Phoenix Coyotes tonight at Scottrade Center.
St. Louis has dropped three straight (0-2-1) for the first time this year and the skid has dropped the Blues to 15-5-5 since Ken Hitchcock took over as head coach for the fired Davis Payne earlier this season.
The Coyotes, meanwhile, will try to stay on the right track tonight after ending their longest losing streak of the campaign in their last trip to the ice.
St. Louis enters tonight as the sixth seed in the West with 46 points. The Coyotes are four points back of the Blues and tied with San Jose for the 10th seed. The Blues and Coyotes met once this season on Dec. 23, when St. Louis recorded a 3-2 regulation win in the desert. Jason Arnott tallied the game- winner for St. Louis and Brian Elliott made 24 saves for the victory.
The Blues have taken three of the last five overall encounters between these clubs and St. Louis has also won four times in the previous six meetings in the Gateway City.
St. Louis was dealt a shutout loss by Jimmy Howard and the Red Wings in their last trip to the ice. Howard turned aside 31 shots to help Detroit post the 3-0 home victory.
Elliott stopped 28 shots for the Blues, who surrendered all three of the game's goals in the second period.
"We had a lapse in the second period and that's what killed us," Elliott said.
Blues defenseman Ian Cole will not be available tonight after getting hit with a three-game suspension for delivering an illegal check to the head of Detroit's Justin Abdelkader. Cole will be eligible to return to game action on Jan. 10 in Montreal.
St. Louis forward Alexander Steen is expected to sit out a third straight game with concussion symptoms. Steen, who leads the club with 13 goals, missed practice on Monday and is doubtful for tonight.
The Blues have a stellar 14-3-2 record on home ice this year and had won six in a row at the Scottrade Center before dropping Friday's 2-1 shootout decision to Nashville.
The Coyotes ended a four-game slide on Saturday by notching a 4-2 road win over Minnesota. It was the second stop on a four-game swing for Phoenix, which has a solid 12-8-1 road record this season.
Radim Vrbata scored two goals in the third period and Curtis McElhinney made 28 saves to lift the Coyotes past the Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Daymond Langkow and Ray Whitney also netted goals for Phoenix.
"It was big for us to get a win tonight. It's been tough sledding for us as of late," Coyotes forward Shane Doan said. "We have to find ways to try and string some together but you can't do that without the first one."
Vrbata, who leads Phoenix with 18 goals this season, snapped a streak of five straight games without a tally. McElhinney earned the win in his first start of the season. Jason LaBarbera started the previous five games in net and could get the call again tonight.
01/03 10:49:25 ET