By LOUIE KORAC
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The longer Barret Jackman wears a Blues jersey, the more likely he climbs some prestigious franchise names and records that go along with those players.
When the Blues (13-3-3) face the Buffalo Sabres (5-16-1) today at 7 p.m. (FSN, KMOX 1120-AM) at First Niagara Center, Jackman will play in career game No. 663, which will put him alone in fourth place on the Blues' all-time games played list.
Jackman, 32, will pass Garry Unger and only trail Bernie Federko (927), Brian Sutter (779) and Brett Hull (744).
"Hopefully I have that many more games in a Bluenote," Jackman said. "... I take a lot of pride in wearing the Bluenote. ... I feel very honored to be a part of it.
"For me to be here for this long is pretty special for me and my family as well."
Jackman has 23 goals and 153 points to go with 902 penalty minutes and he's a plus-41 in his career after the Blues selected the defenseman 17th overal in the 1999 NHL Draft.
Barring injury, Jackman can catch Hull next season and Sutter in 2015. Catching Federko will take some creativity but Jackman said he'll keep things quiet with Federko once he's got him within sight.
"I'll keep the trash talk to a minimum until I can pass those other two guys and then I'll start chirping Bernie," Jackman joked.
- - -
The Blues continue their trip to the Eastern Conference, with tonight's game the middle of three away from Scottrade Center.
After a 4-1 loss to begin the trip at Washington Sunday, the Blues hope to get back to their winning ways against a Sabres team that went through a front office culture change last week with the firing of their general manager (Darcy Regier) and head coach (Ron Rolston) and replaced them with interin coach Ted Nolan as well as bringing in St. Louis native Pat LaFontaine as president of hockey operations.
"We had the proper energy, but I think we gave (Washington) too many chances off the rush and that put us in a little bit of peril," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We didn't play normal as far as the proper pressure position game. We probably over-pursued. We got a lot of scoring chances, but we over-pursued and that's kind of the wrong team (to do that against). We gave up some odd-man rushes in the first period and they make plays on odd-man rushes.
"I liked our spirit. We kept going. I thought for sure when it was 3-1, we were going to win the hockey game. That fourth goal kind of took the wind out of our sails a little bit because we were really coming on. It's a good lesson-loss and hopefully we can step back and play. But this is not the Buffalo team that was here 10 days ago. This is now a veteran hockey club that's not going to make the errors they made 10 days ago. This is going to be a different team and I think our players, when they look at the lineup that they're dressing tonight compared to what was here a little while ago, I think the players really see a big difference."
The Blues know plenty about culture changes. They went through it again two seasons ago when Hitchcock was brought in to replace the fired Davis Payne one month into the season.
"I think they start working a lot harder," right winger T.J. Oshie said of the Sabres. "They have a new coach to impress with their play and how hard they can work.
"It's going to be a tough one. They're going to be working hard tonight, they're going to come out in the first period, the first couple shifts with a lot of energy so we've got to match that and focus on playing our game and approach this like it would be any other game.
"That was a tough one in Washington. At points, I think we were there, but at most points, they beat us. They beat us for most of the game in every aspect. Hopefully some of the guys took it a little personal the way that we showed up. Tonight we should be firing on all cylinders."
- - -
Blues center Derek Roy returns to Buffalo to face his former teammates for the first time since being traded in 2012 to the Dallas Stars for right winger Steve Ott and defenseman Adam Pardy. Roy spent eight seasons in Buffalo after being drafted by the Sabres in the second round in the 2001 NHL Draft but never got the chance to return last season with either the Stars or Vancouver Canucks in the lockout-shortened season.
"I had a meeting with Darcy before and I told him I didn't want to be traded," Roy said, recalling his time with the Sabres. "I wanted to stay here. We had some unfinished business in winning a Stanley Cup or at least making a good playoff run. I thought we had a great team.
"It was tough early on. I think right away with being here for so long, knowing all the players and knowing the city, it was different to go to a city I didn't know anybody and don't really know the city and where I'm going to live. It was a tough change right away and I adapted really well."
After playing out an injury-filled season with the Stars and Canucks, Roy signed a one-year contract for $4 million last summer with the Blues.
"I wanted to go to a team where I thought I had the best chance for the Stanley Cup," said Roy, who has 173 goals and 466 points in 610 career games. "Me and my agent talked it over and found that St. Louis was a great fit."
- - -
The Blues (13-3-3) Tuesday without right wing Chris Stewart, who was experiencing flu-like symptoms and stayed at the team hotel. Hitchcock said it's been going around the locker room with players but expected Stewart to play. If not, Adam Cracknell will step into the lineup.
"He is in the middle of what's kind of going through our room here a little bit, flu bug," Hitchcock said of Stewart, "but we're hopeful that he can play tonight. We think he is, but we seem to have the flu bug going through our room right now. We asked him to stay back at the hotel. He said he thinks he'll be able to go, no problem."
- - -
If the Blues are to prevail tonight against the team that's tied for the fewest wins in the NHL with Florida and Edmonton and has the fewest points (11), they might want to look at the first period.
The Sabres, despite seven of their losses being by one goal, have been particularly brutal in the first period, being outscored 29-3 in 22 games.
Buffalo has not had a first period lead this season, the Sabres are 4-14-0 when trailing after one and 0-14-0 when trailing after two periods.
"Looking at their tape, the coaches said they came out really hard against Toronto (in back-to-back games this past weekend) in the first period and Toronto responded really well," Oshie said. "We've got to be ready for anything. If they're not fired up, we've got to take advantage of it. If they are, we've got to contain their energy and match it and hopefully we'll work harder than they will."
- - -
Tonight marks the first time the Blues play in Buffalo since the blockbuster trade between the Blues and Colorado Avalanche that was announced when the team returned from a 3-0 win here.
The trade sent Erik Johnson, Jay McClement and a first round pick to the Avalanche for Stewart, Kevin Shattenkirk and a second round pick.
Oshie recalls how crazy it was, knowing Johnson and McClement were teammates on the plane coming home -- the Blues played the next night in St. Louis against Anaheim -- and then being a former teammate when they landed.
"It was definitely a crazy time," Oshie said. "Everyone here loved EJ. But Stew and Shatty have been huge additions to our team. Other than that, it was more of a shock.
"It was still early in my career where trades were new to me and they were weird. I understand now it's part of the game, but looking back on that, it was a big shock."
- - -
The Blues' probable lineup (pending Stewart's status):
Alexander Steen-David Backes-T.J. Oshie
Brenden Morrow-Derek Roy-Chris Stewart
Jaden Schwartz-Vladimir Sobotka-Vladimir Tarasenko
Magnus Paajarvi-Maxim Lapierre-Ryan Reaves
Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman-Kevin Shattenkirk
Ian Cole-Roman Polak
Jaroslav Halak will start in goal. Brian Elliott is the backup.
Healthy scratches include Carlo Colaiacovo and Adam Cracknell. Injured players include Patrik Berglund (upper-body) and Jordan Leopold (hand).
- - -
The Sabres' probable lineup:
Matt Moulson-Cody Hodgson-Drew Stafford
Tyler Ennis-Ville Leino-Steve Ott
Marcus Foligno-Zemgus Girgensons-Brian Flynn
John Scott-Cody McCormick-Corey Tropp
Christian Ehrhoff-Mark Pysyk
Tyler Myers-Henrik Tallinder
Jamie McBain-Mike Weber
Ryan Miller will start in goal. Jhonas Enroth is the backup.
The Sabres sent defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, center Mikhail Grigorenko (conditioning assignment) and left winger Johan Larsson to the Rochester Amerks of the American Hockey League. They also sent defenseman Nikita Zadorov to the London Knights of the American Hockey League.