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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, February 13th (All times Eastern)
St. Louis Blues (6-5-1) at Detroit Red Wings (7-4-1), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Cashing in on the man advantage hasn't been an issue this season for the St. Louis Blues, but even-strength hockey has been another story.
The Blues try to get their offense going on Wednesday night when they look to snap a five-game losing streak in a matchup with the streaking Detroit Red Wings.
St. Louis has scored a power-play goal in six straight games and leads the NHL with a 34.8-percent conversion rate on the man advantage through its 12 games. However, the club has been outscored 24-18 when skating 5-on-5 and yielded three even-strength goals in Monday's 4-1 setback to the Los Angeles Kings.
Alex Steen had the Blues' only goal, scoring on the power play with 43 seconds left in the second period. Kevin Shattenkirk and Andy McDonald assisted on Steen's second goal of the season, a tally that pushed his scoring streak to five straight games (2 goals, 3 assists).
Still, St. Louis fell to 0-4-1 in its past five after winning six of seven to begin the season. The Blues opened the campaign with a 6-0 home victory over the Red Wings, but have lost to the club twice during its winless stretch.
Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock pointed out after Monday's loss his team's need to score more goals at even strength.
"All our scoring chances against good teams come on power plays," said Hitchcock. "We don't get any chances 5-on-5 and you have to really dig in 5- on-5 against good teams to get scoring opportunities, and we don't do that."
Hitchcock was hoping to spark his club on Monday by starting a returning Jaroslav Halak in net, but the goaltender was scratched after aggravating a groin injury that had held him out of the previous three games.
Brian Elliott instead got another start and made just 19 saves in defeat. He has gone 0-3-1 with a 5.05 goals against average and .791 save percentage during Halak's absence.
Hitchcock on Tuesday listed Halak as day-to-day and the coach could opt to give 22-year-old Jake Allen his first career start in this game over the struggling Elliott.
Whoever gets the call will face a Red Wings team that has won three straight and has been out of action since a thrilling 3-2 win over the Kings on Sunday.
The game appeared headed to overtime after Los Angeles' Alec Martinez scored with 52.8 seconds left in the third, but Detroit blueliner Jonathan Ericsson notched a goal with just 4.5 ticks left on the clock to give his team a 3-2 win.
Despite the final-minute hiccup, goaltender Jimmy Howard was outstanding with 45 saves, 23 of those coming in a scoreless second period, and is slated to start for the 12th time in 13 games on Wednesday.
"If you watched that game, I think you'd say (Howard) stole that one for us, no doubt about that," said Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall.
Pavel Datsyuk and rookie Damien Brunner supplied the other goals for Detroit, which has won the first two of a four-game homestand. Henrik Zetterberg had a pair of assists to give him six helpers over his last four games.
In winning their past two versus the Blues, the Red Wings have taken six of seven and eight of the past 12 encounters overall. They have also won four straight and seven of the last eight meetings in Detroit.
Zetterberg is pacing the Red Wings with three goals and six points versus the Blues this season, while Shattenkirk has notched a goal and three assists for the Blues. Steen has four assists in the three meetings.
02/13 10:34:56 ET