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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, March 10th (All times Eastern)

Columbus Blue Jackets (22-38-7) at St. Louis Blues (43-18-7), 8 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The first-place St. Louis Blues will aim for a fourth straight win when they host the suddenly-surging Columbus Blue Jackets tonight at Scottrade Center in the opener of a home-and-home series.

With 93 points, the Blues are two ahead of Detroit for the Central Division lead. Columbus, meanwhile, is 42 points behind St. Louis in the division standings and that's after the Blue Jackets have posted a season-high four straight victories.

In addition to leading the Central, St. Louis is also one point ahead of Vancouver for the Western Conference and NHL lead.

The Blues won the first two meetings of the year with Columbus, but the Blue Jackets took the most recent encounter, a 2-1 regulation decision at Nationwide Arena on Feb. 14. St. Louis, however, has won six of eight overall in this series and Columbus has dropped two in a row, four of five and 12 of its last 14 games in the Gateway City.

The Blue Jackets will host the finale of this home-and-home tomorrow in Columbus.

St. Louis has outscored the opposition by an 11-3 margin during its three-game winning streak and the Blues are coming off Thursday's victory over Anaheim. The 3-1 decision over the Ducks improved St. Louis' amazing record at home this season to 28-4-4.

Patrik Berglund and David Backes scored goals within 2:01 of each other early in the third period to provide the difference for the Blues. The triumph improved the Blues to 7-1 in their last eight games.

"We're absolutely having fun," said Backes. "You're winning hockey games and you're coming to the rink and having success for the work you're putting in and that's what it's about is getting rewards for the efforts and for committing to that all for one type of goal."

Backes also scored the first goal of the game for the Blues, who rattled off three unanswered markers after falling behind early in the second period. Jaroslav Halak made 24 saves in the win.

Columbus also earned a 3-1 win on Thursday as Mark Letestu scored a pair of goals to lead the Blue Jackets to a win over Los Angeles in Jeff Carter's return to Nationwide Arena.

Carter was dealt to LA on Feb. 23 for a first-round draft pick and defenseman Jack Johnson, ending his brief and tumultuous tenure in Columbus. Johnson scored a goal for the Blue Jackets on Thursday, while Carter, who was held without a point or a shot on goal, was booed by the Columbus crowd each time he touched the puck.

Vinny Prospal had a pair of assists for the Blue Jackets, who haven't won five in a row since Nov. 17-24 of last season.

Steve Mason made 16 saves in the win before leaving the game in the second period with a hand injury. Curtis Sanford came in and stopped all 13 shots he faced.

"We got contributions from everyone tonight," Blue Jackets interim head coach Todd Richards said. "I thought 5-on-5 we were very good, our defense had to log some minutes and even the backup goaltender got involved, so we literally got contributions from everyone."

The Blue Jackets are just 9-20-4 as the visiting team this season.

03/10 10:55:36 ET


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