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The Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues haven't been to the postseason recently, but the season series in 2007-08 could ultimately impact the Western Conference playoff race.
After one of their best offensive performances of the season, the Blackhawks look to win their third straight over the Blues when the once-downtrodden franchises meet on Saturday night in St. Louis.
Chicago (14-9-2) moved into second place in the Central Division with a 6-1 rout of Phoenix on Friday night, leapfrogging by St. Louis (14-8-1) as it lost 3-2 in overtime to Minnesota. The Blackhawks are tied for fourth in the conference with 30 points, while Blues are sixth with 29.
Though both teams are playing like playoff contenders entering December, Chicago has enjoyed an advantage over St. Louis.
Chicago went 5-3-0 against St. Louis last season, but finished with 71 points while the Blues were only 10 better. In 2005-06, the Blackhawks and Blues had the two worst records in the West but Chicago went 5-2-1 in the season series.
The Blackhawks dropped their first matchup with the Blues this season, but has scored seven goals en route to wins in its last two games including a 4-2 victory on Nov. 9.
Recently, Chicago's offense has surged with 11 goals in its last two games. In the win over the Coyotes, the Blackhawks scored on their first three shots and five times in the first period. It was the second time this season the Blackhawks have scored five goals in a period and their 77 overall are second in the West behind Central Division-leading Detroit (85).
"We've got talented guys to work with," said Blackhawks defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, who was the surprise star Friday with three consecutive goals in the first period. "It's great to see us getting on a roll."
Byfuglien, who also added an assist in his 47th NHL game, matched the Chicago record for goals in a game by a defenseman set in 1977 by Dick Redmond and matched by Doug Wilson in 1991. Byfuglien has three goals and an assist in 12 games coming in.
Tuomo Ruutu added two goals, rookie Jonathan Toews had a goal and two assists, and rookie scoring leader Patrick Kane also had two assists. Kane - the top overall pick in this season's draft - got his first career points against St. Louis in the teams' last meeting with a goal and assist.
St. Louis had also been in a groove offensively, outscoring its opponents 10-4 during a three-game winning streak that ended Friday. The Blues did show some grit against the Wild as Lee Stempniak and Brad Boyes scored second-period goals to erase a 2-0 deficit.
"They are a good team and we are trying to become a good team," St. Louis coach Andy Murray said.
Brad Boyes, who leads the team with 15 goals, is part of a promising group that has been complemented by veterans Paul Kariya and Keith Tkachuk. Those three have combined for 28 goals and 64 points. Boyes, though, has not scored a goal in four career games against the Blackhawks.