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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Sunday, February 17th (All times Eastern)

St. Louis Blues (8-5-1) at Vancouver Canucks (8-3-2), 9 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Outstanding goaltending was the foundation of the St. Louis Blues' success last season. Rookie Jake Allen must have taken notice.

The 22-year-old is set to make his third straight start on Sunday night as the Blues shoot for a third straight victory in a meeting with the Northwest Division-leading Vancouver Canucks.

Thanks to the duel effort of Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak, the Blues gave up the fewest goals in the NHL last season and captured the Central Division crown to make the playoffs for just the second time in the past seven years.

While St. Louis hasn't had trouble scoring goals this season, ranking second in the league with 3.36 per game, it is allowing 3.14 per game to sit 23rd in the league.

Halak has been limited to five starts and none since Feb. 1 due to a nagging groin injury that still has him day-to-day, while Elliott stands 3-5-1 on the season with a 3.57 goals against average and .849 save percentage.

That has opened the door for Allen to get some playing time. He won his first NHL start on Wednesday in Detroit and was solid in Friday's 5-2 win over the Calgary Flames, turning aside 30 shots while making perhaps the save of the year so far this season.

Allen's incredible stop came on Calgary's T.J. Brodie midway through the first. With the Flames breaking in, Brodie trailed the play and drifted into the slot, taking a feed from the right side while starting at a wide-open net.

Allen, though, sprung from his knees from the left of his net and stuck out his stick, knocking Brodie's shot into the air before calmly snaring it with his glove.

"I saw the guy in the corner of my eye. In desperation I didn't have much of a chance so I just threw my stick out there," Allen said. "Fortunate enough for me, it hit it and it popped right up so I could catch it right away too, which is a big bonus."

The defensive play was the highlight of a four-goal first period for the Blues, who have won two straight following an 0-4-1 skid. David Perron scored a pair of power-play goals, while Alexander Steen scored in his fourth straight game while adding two assists.

Perron's goals gave St. Louis a man-advantage tally in eight straight games and it owns the league's best power play at 35.8 percent.

The Blues will try to send the Canucks to a second straight loss for the first time this month after Vancouver saw a six-game winning streak halted with Friday's 4-3 defeat to the Dallas Stars.

The Canucks held a 3-1 lead in the second before the Stars bounced back with three unanswered goals.

The loss spoiled a milestone night for Henrik Sedin, who became the franchise's all-time leading scorer with a pair of assists. His 757 career points moved one better than Markus Naslund.

"Very special. To be a part of something like that and getting the chance to get the record on home ice in front of your home fans, that's an honor and great feeling out there. It means a lot to me," said Sedin.

Twin brother Daniel Sedin had a goal and an assist, while Chris Higgins and Alexandre Burrows also scored. Ryan Kesler made his season debut following offseason shoulder and wrist surgery, notching an assist with four shots in 17:27 of ice time.

Cory Schneider was charged with all four goals on 29 shots in the setback and head coach Alain Vigneault will continue his splitting of time in net by going back to Roberto Luongo for this game.

Luongo has yet to lose in regulation this season, going 4-0-2 with a league- leading 1.45 GAA.

The Canucks split four meetings with the Blues last season, but have won eight of the past 12 at home in this series.

02/17 10:36:48 ET


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