NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Wednesday, December 16th
(All times eastern)
St. Louis Blues (14-12-5) at Chicago Blackhawks (20-8-3), 8:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Chicago Blackhawks will try to regain sole possession
of first place in the Central Division when they welcome the rival St. Louis
Blues for tonight's battle at United Center.
The Blackhawks come into tonight with 43 points and are tied with Nashville
for the top spot in the division following the Predators' victory over Tampa
Bay on Tuesday.
St. Louis, meanwhile, is dead last in the Central with just 33 points on the
The Blackhawks come into tonight having won three of four and four of their
last six games. Chicago also began a five-game homestand on a positive note
this past Sunday, when it blanked the Lightning by a 4-0 score.
Antti Niemi made 18 saves for his third shutout of the season to lead Chicago
to its latest triumph. Niemi has recorded the shutouts in just seven total
starts this year and is expected to serve as the backup to Cristobal Huet
again tonight. Huet has one shutout in 24 starts this year.
Marian Hossa had a goal and an assist in Chicago dominating performance
against Tampa. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Ben Eager also scored in the
"We knew we just needed to be better 5-on-5, because we've got lots of talent.
But we just have to work harder," Hossa said. "Tonight, we created much more
offense, we played much better 5-on-5. You work hard, good things happen."
Kane suffered a cut above his left eye in Monday's win, but is expected to
play tonight. The right winger is leading Chicago in goals (10) and points
(30) this season.
Chicago has an excellent 13-3-1 record as the host this year and has won 10 of
its last 11 on home ice.
The Blues are coming off a win Tuesday night, as they hosted Calgary at
Scottrade Center and posted a 4-3 regulation win over the Flames. T.J. Oshie
scored the game-winning goal with 4:58 left in the third period to lift St.
Louis to the close victory at Scottrade Center.
Andy McDonald, David Backes and Alex Steen also scored for the Blues, who have
won four of their last six games overall. Chris Mason turned aside 20 shots
while Brad Boyes added three assists in the victory.
St. Louis has a solid 8-2-3 record as the visiting team this year and has won
its last three road games. The Blues will return to the Gateway City to host
Tampa Bay on Friday, but will then head back out on a four-game road trip.
Tonight marks the first of six meetings between Chicago and the Blues this
year. St. Louis took four of six from the Blackhawks during the 2008-09 season
series, but the Blues have lost four of six and seven of their last 10 in the
12/16 10:37:50 ET