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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, March 3rd (All times eastern)

St. Louis Blues (28-27-9) at New York Rangers (30-27-7), 1 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The St. Louis Blues have yet to be slowed down despite the recent defections of their top two scorers. Today the red-hot club takes aim at a third consecutive victory when they visit the New York Rangers for a matinee from Madison Square Garden.

The Blues traded away impending free agents Keith Tkachuk and Bill Guerin in separate deals prior to Tuesday's deadline, then went out and posted victories in each of their first two games following the moves. In its most recent time out, St. Louis came through with a 3-2 road triumph over the New York Islanders Thursday on Lee Stempniak's power-play goal 25 seconds into overtime.

St. Louis trailed 2-0 with under three minutes remaining in regulation, but drew even when Jay McClement and Petr Cajanek scored just 38 seconds apart.

Doug Weight and Jeff Woywitka each picked up a pair of assists for the Blues, while Curtis Sanford made 25 stops to win his second consecutive start.

St. Louis has now recorded victories in six of its last seven outings and improved to 12-12-6 on the road with Thursday's decision. Still, the team stands 12 points behind the Calgary Flames, who currently hold the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, entering today's play.

The Rangers have a better chance of achieving their goal of a postseason berth, but are also on the outside looking in of the playoff picture at the moment. New York is in 11th place in the Eastern Conference standings and six points behind both the New York Islanders and Carolina for the East's last two playoff positions.

The team missed out on an opportunity to close the gap on Thursday, when the Rangers blew an early two-goal advantage in a shootout loss to Pittsburgh. Penguins phenom Sidney Crosby scored the only goal during the deciding phase to deal New York a costly 4-3 defeat at Madison Square Garden.

Jaromir Jagr, Michael Nylander and Blair Betts all had goals for the Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist made 30 saves in the loss, the Blueshirts' fourth in five games.

New York played for the second straight game without forward Martin Straka, who ranks second on the club with 27 goals, because of a shoulder injury. The team's leading goal scorer, Brendan Shanahan, remains sidelined with a concussion suffered last month.

Straka and defenseman Fedor Tyutin, who left Thursday's loss with a sprained knee, are not expected to be available this afternoon.

The Rangers will be playing the fifth installment of a six-game homestand this afternoon. New York is 1-1-2 on the stretch and a disappointing 13-14-5 as the host for the season.

St. Louis makes its first visit to Madison Square Garden since it posted a 3-2 win over the Rangers on November 3, 2002. The Blues have won four straight as the visitor in this series and are 4-1-1 (1 tie) in their last six matchups against New York.

03/03 10:19:29 ET

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