After a gritty overtime victory at Dallas on Tuesday, the St. Louis Blues will attempt to keep building momentum on the road in their last game before a holiday layoff.
While an overtime victory against a team that’s tied for fifth place in its division usually isn’t the clearest sign that an NHL team has turned the corner, Tuesday’s 3-2 win over the Dallas Stars was big for the St. Louis Blues. It marked just their second road win in five away games this month, their third in 11 road games since November 1, and only their fifth in 15 games played away from Scottrade Center this season.
More than that, the Blues proved that they were wiling and able to tough it out. Playing in Dallas after hosting Edmonton in St. Louis the night before, going to battle without their top defenseman, Alex Pietrangelo, as he battled an illness, and trying to fight as Ryan Reaves and Robby Fabbri played through in-game injuries and Paul Stastny left with one, the Blues didn’t back down.
After Patrik Berglund tied the game up at 2 just before the end of the third period, the Blues held steady throughout the third and took it to overtime. There, an aggressive offensive attack and a masterful wrap-around goal by David Perron gave the Blues their first victory within the Central Division this month.
As the Blues visit the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night, they’ll try to build up some more momentum before breaking for the holidays. It’ll be their last game before a December 28 matchup with the Philadelphia Flyers, and it will represent their final road contest until January 12 in Los Angeles.
The Blues beat the Lightning 5-4 on December 1 in St. Louis, and the trends dictate that they should have a pretty good shot to do so again on Thursday. The Lightning–who are without their best player, Steven Stamkos, and just lost goalie Ben Bishop for 3-4 weeks–currently sit seven points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Though they defeated the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 on Tuesday, they’ve won just three of nine games in December (and only two in regulation). Overall, they’ve won just six of 16 games since Stamkos went down. Obviously, though, with as inconsistent as the Blues have been on the road this season, they can’t afford to take any opponent lightly. Instead, they’ll need to identify Tampa’s weaknesses and attack them as effectively as they can.
Let’s take a look at what the Blues’ projected lineup against the Lightning: