St. Louis
Blues
41-31-10
Chicago
Blackhawks
46-24-12

17 SOG
30 SOG
1st2nd3rdT
STL
CHI
game preview

Blues-Blackhawks Preview

Wednesday, 04.01.2009 / 6:30 PM

Associated Press

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Blues-Blackhawks Preview
St. Louis Blues vs. Chicago Blackhawks

St. Louis Blues coach Andy Murray says he's not a believer in momentum. But with the season winding down and his team still somehow in the mix for its first playoff berth since 2004, it's hard to believe otherwise.

Chris Mason and the Blues will try to keep several streaks alive Wednesday night when they meet the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center for the final time in the regular season.

St. Louis is 4-0-1 against Chicago this season, but it's Mason who's been unbeatable in two starts against the Blues' most bitter Central Division rival. He turned aside 21 shots in a 2-0 victory in Chicago on Jan. 21, then turned in another shutout on Feb. 13, making 22 saves in the Blues' 1-0 home victory.

"We've definitely played two great games against them as a team," Mason said after the most recent win against the Blackhawks (40-24-11). "They're a good team, so I wouldn't go saying (I have their number) yet."

The Blues (37-30-9) have defied the odds to remain in the hunt for one of the last playoff spots. On Feb. 24, they were 14th in the West, but have since gone 11-4-1, and begin play in ninth - one point behind Anaheim and Nashville, which are tied for seventh.

Five of St. Louis' final six games are on the road, where they're 15-17-4. But the Blues won their fifth in a row Sunday with a 5-2 victory over Columbus to sweep a home-and-home series.

"I don't believe in momentum, because I don't know what it is," said Murray, whose team posted a 4-3 shootout win in St. Louis one night earlier. "I just know that every game and every sporting event stands on it's own. You've got to go out and establish your own credibility. For us to win two games against them is gratifying because they're a really good team."

Mason made 26 saves for his 23rd win, one shy of his career best set in 2006-07 with Nashville. Patrik Berglund had a goal and two assists, and is third among rookies with 47 points.

Berglund has two goals and three assists in a three-game streak, but just one assist in four games versus Chicago.

The Blackhawks, seeking their first playoff berth since 2002, are having trouble finding the back of the net lately. After being overpowered in a 4-0 home loss to Vancouver on Sunday, Chicago allowed a goal 25 seconds in on Tuesday and fell 4-1 at Montreal.

The Blackhawks dropped to 0-5-0 when giving up a score in the opening minute.

The loss, combined with Vancouver's overtime win in Minnesota, pushed the Blackhawks into fifth place in the West. Chicago is one point behind Calgary for fourth in the conference, and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

"If we play hard and we go out there and win games and fight as a team, the standings take care of itself," Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said. "Obviously, there are things we can't control. We had a tough loss against Vancouver the other night and now we don't play them again, so whatever happens away from where we are is out of our control. We've just got to focus on what we can do out there."

Patrick Sharp notched his 26th goal for Chicago with just under eight minutes to play. He has one assist and is a team-worst minus-5 in five games versus the Blues

Though coach Joel Quenneville has alternated Huet and Nikolai Khabibulin in net for much of the season, the Russian will probably see the bulk of playing time from here on out.

Khabibulin is 2-1-0 in his last three starts, but has given up 11 goals for 3.53 GAA. He hasn't lost in regulation in five starts against St. Louis, going 3-0-2 with a 2.92 GAA.

2008-2009 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Apr 01 '09STL 1 at CHI 3S. Pahlsson
Feb 13 '09CHI 0 at STL 1B. Boyes
Jan 21 '09STL 2 at CHI 0J. Woywitka
Jan 17 '09CHI 2 at STL 1 - OTM. Havlat
Nov 14 '08STL 4 at CHI 3 - OTA. McDonald
Oct 18 '08CHI 3 at STL 4 - SOT. Oshie
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
B. Boyes77303363-21261610
D. Perron76143549+125043
D. Backes77262147-715960
P. Berglund71212647+191671
K. Tkachuk74222042-1257133
A. McDonald41132538-142441
T. Oshie52132336+152851
C. Colaiacovo6832629+13300
A. Steen7681725-133030
J. McClement77121224-92903
B. Crombeen76101020-1014603
B. Winchester5912719-48752
B. Jackman7741519-208410
J. Woywitka6031417+35721
P. Kariya1121315+1200
R. Polak6411415-163901
L. Stempniak1431013-3201
Y. Stastny34347-142000
J. McKee64156+94201
E. Brewer28156-142410
M. Weaver53066-11200
S. Regier8314-1420
S. Wagner22224-51800
C. Janssen56134-513100
D. Hinote46134-54900
C. Paddock16213-4000
T. Strachan30033+83900
C. Porter6112-1000
A. Pietrangelo8011+0200
T. Whitfield3011+2000
D. King1011+0000
D. Koci5000-21300
A. Wozniewski1000+0000
J. Junland1000+0200
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
C. Mason5223-21-611814082.43.916
M. Legace2913-9-2776693.18.885
B. Bishop61-1-1121122.94.893
M. Schwarz20-0-0050.001.000
C. Holt10-0-0030.001.000
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
M. Havlat75264369+232855
P. Kane74244165-742133
J. Toews76313364+751126
K. Versteeg73212950+135562
B. Campbell7674047-22241
D. Bolland75172845+184814
P. Sharp60261844+64194
A. Ladd76133043+212601
D. Keith7283442+315821
C. Barker6263440-76351
D. Byfuglien71131427+47933
T. Brouwer65101626+75040
B. Seabrook7671623+226021
C. Fraser7561117+45500
S. Pahlsson6061117-193412
B. Eager6910414+215400
M. Walker5911314+67500
J. Wisniewski3121113+61410
A. Burish60639+48902
A. Johnson35358+183301
C. Adams36246-32210
B. Sopel23112-4801
N. Hjalmarsson15022-1000
J. Skille8101-3500
J. Hendry9000-1400
P. Pelletier7000-4000
T. Brent2000+0200
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
N. Khabibulin3721-8-69010632.50.915
C. Huet4019-15-49710642.54.909
A. Niemi31-1-18593.40.864