Friday, December 30, 2016

Blues close out pre-Winter Classic schedule with 4-0 thud against Predators

Players claim there are no distractions, were outplayed 
in all facets; face Blackhawks Monday at Busch Stadium

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues said all the right things this week about not making the 2017 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic a distraction.

And judging by a 6-3 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday, the Blues displayed all the reasons why they had tunnel vision.

But then Friday happened, a 4-0 lackluster loss to the Nashville Predators before 19,483 at Scottrade Center where the Blues (19-13-5) showed very little after the first period other than getting out of the game unscathed and begin the final stages of their first outdoor game.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues goalie Carter Hutton makes a save in front of Nashville's Mike
Fisher and teammate Jay Bouwmeester on Friday at Scottrade Center.

"Maybe but not myself, no. Other guys, no, because it is a couple of days (away)," Blues center Paul Stastny said of any potential distractions. "If it was right away, but with two days between, you've got a lot of time. You want to have a good game because then you've got those two days to think about it. You always want to play well because ... you're only as good as your last game, that's all you have in the back of your mind. 

"No, I don't know, just flat. You saw it, we saw it. It's frustrating. We get down a goal and then we start playing three forwards by ourselves, we try to play two defensemen by themselves. When we get away from it, I think we get away from each other and that's the worst thing that happens to us. When we're coming back for each other, and we're supporting each other, we play a lot better. When we play too spread out, we're trying to do too much and we isolate ourselves. A team like that, that can move well, they just jump on top of you." 

And considering the Predators (16-14-6) played the night before, a tough 3-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, the Blues seemed to be the ones on their heels and the Predators initiating the play.

Rookie Jusse Saros made 25 saves for his first NHL shutout, and he was supported by second-period goals by Yannick Weber, Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson for the Predators, who ended a three-game losing streak by winning their third straight road game. 

Saros played his seventh NHL game. 

"I just think we got outplayed today. It's one game," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We played awful well at home, but we got outplayed today. They were hungry, they were desperate, they played very well last night and lost. They were hungry. They played for the kid in goal, the kid was great in goal, he played great early, he played great late. They outworked us at the puck. They played right through us at times and I think we got some frustration because of that. We had great focus early, did a really good job and after the second goal, we lost our focus. We lost our energy and we lost our focus and we haven't done that at home at all. That's the first time we've done it for a long time at home. Disappointing."

The Blues (19-13-5) host the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2017 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Busch Stadium on Monday (noon; NBC, KMOX 1120-AM).

"No, we're not going to use that as an excuse," Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo said. "We've been going about our business as normal."

Added forward Alexander Steen: "No, we know the schedule. We knew we had these ... their tough divisional games. These games against Nashville, Minny and Chicago, even Winnipeg and Dallas, they're always hard-fought games. Tonight they played better than us, plain and simple."

Weber scored his first of the season, and first in 81 games, on a wrist shot to give the Predators a 1-0 lead at 4:52. 

Forsberg scored a power-play goal at 7:26 to make it 2-0, and Arvidsson got around defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and Jake Allen's poke-check to make it 3-0 at 17:36. 

"We really hit the skids when it went 2-0," Hitchcock said. "Lost our energy and lost our focus. I don't know. Disappointing. We played like there was a lot of really good things in the first period. Power play was creating chances, we got a lot of pucks deep, we did a lot of the things we talked about. Followed the plan and did a really good job and it's still 0-0, so you're right there. We made a bunch of mistakes on the first goal and can't take the penalties we took on the second goal; it really put us in a tough spot. When it went 2-0, we really seemed to lose our energy."

Allen made 11 saves and was replaced at the start of the third period by Carter Hutton, who made eight saves on nine shots.

"It was 3-0, we needed a spark," Hitchcock said. "'Hutts' was good." 

Colin Wilson scored a power-play goal from the left circle at 8:08 of the third off a rebound.

It's the first time the Blues have been shut out on home ice since Nov. 3, 2015 (3-0 against the Los Angeles Kings), but there's an underlying theme here also: the Blues have not won two games in a row since winning on Nov. 26 and 28.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues center Paul Stastny (26) tries to get away with the puck from
Predators defenseman Roman Josi during a 4-0 loss on Friday.

"I think that tells you a lot," Hitchcock said. "Obviously we have to put a lot more into it. If we expect to win on a regular basis, we're going to have to have way better 5-on-5 play than the way we're playing right now. We're sitting there relying on our power play, relying on our penalty kill to win hockey games, our 5-on-5 play has to get way better. We just have to create more, we've got to give up less. Our 5-on-5 play in the second half of the season drives the bus and you just can't keep living.

"The game before we had an advantage on the special teams, we did a great job on the power play, did a great job killing penalties and today we were on the minus side of things. You just can't keep living on special teams. Our 5-on-5 play has to get a lot better."

"If I had a reason, I'd tell you, but I don't have an answer," Pietrangelo said. "The only thing I can say is we've got to simplify. We've got to keep it as simple as possible for five minutes to change the momentum. That's what we've got to do."

(12-30-16) Predators-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- As the days draw closer to the Winter Classic on Monday, it's easy for the Blues to divert their attention to that game.

But for the Blues (19-12-5), who have a big divisional game against the Nashville Predators today at 7 p.m. (FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM), the attention to detail and tunnel vision has been key. They had it in a 6-3 win on Wednesday against the Philadelphia Flyers and they feel like it's not going to be a problem for tonight before the hoopla begins.

"Everyone's done a good job," Blues left wing Jaden Schwartz said. "Obviously there's some stuff you've got to organize stuff the day before and stuff like that, but it's pretty easy to stay on. These are big points. Obviously tonight's a big one, a divisional game. The game's still not until Monday. We've got a few days to look forward to that after today." 

But coach Ken Hitchcock said it would be foolish to think that the players haven't diverted some attention to Busch Stadium.

"I think we'd be naive to think that, there's a lot of stuff going on," Hitchcock said. "I liked our energy yesterday, I liked our energy today, I like the way we played in the last game, so things are trending in the right direction, but we've got a significant opponent. Yesterday's game in Nashville between the Preds and the Hawks, I'm not sure if it was the TV angle or what, but it was one of the fastest games I've seen all year and one of the best games I've seen all year. I think everybody that watched any of that game knows we've got a tough go tonight."

The Predators (0-2-1) their last three games, lost 3-2 to the Blackhawks on home ice and lost right wing James Neal in the second period to an upper-body injury.

Nashville coach Peter Laviolette didn't have anything to report from the team hotel Friday morning (Nashville did not skate at Scottrade Center), nor did he have an update whether Pekka Rinne or Juuse Saros would play goal.

"It's always a tough game with St. Louis, just a heavy battle game," Laviolette said. "It's usually the team that can win the battles usually wins the game, more so than any other opponent that we have."

But the Blues have a chance to perhaps take advantage of a tired team tonight, or do they?

"I think it's overblown," Hitchcock said. "I think back-to-back is overblown. Three in four is not. I think the energy zap that you have to really look at is when you play the third game. That's been significant for us and a lot of other coaches, there's a huge drop off in that one. 

"I think back-to-back is really over-rated. I think a lot of players would prefer playing back-to-back and then getting a couple days off. It's that third one you have to play you seem to start to feel it."

- - -

Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, fresh off signing a two-year extension on Thursday, skated for what is believed to be the first time with teammates since sustaining a lower-body injury on Dec. 3 against Winnipeg. 

Bortuzzo has missed the past 11 games.

"I think things are on schedule," Bortuzzo said. "We're not pushing things. We definitely don't want this to be a lingering thing. Going through the proper steps. I just want to be healthy and ready for the end of the season when the big push is on.

"It's definitely nothing I've had to deal with in my career, it's tough more mentally than anything, kind of assessing why. They both seem like anomalies or freak things if you want to call them. For them to be so close together, it's tough mentally to pinpoint or think what it could be. You put it behind you and know that you put the work in. It's nothing to do with training or work, it's sports. That's the way some of these things go. You're better off not even thinking about it. Put it behind you and move forward."

Bortuzzo has played just 11 games, but Hitchcock said he's been sorely missed.

"I think he's a glue guy and you can't have enough of those guys," Hitchcock said. "They're happy on either side of the fence, they're good team players, he fits well with whatever group is on the ice and when you have enough unselfish players who are willing to fit in anywhere and everywhere, it becomes really contagious and I think he's a contagious player in a good way. He brings out the best of us when he's playing. 

"Army (Doug Armstrong's) right when he said the way he's playing before he got hurt, there's no way you can bring him out of the lineup. He was playing that well. He was really playing as well as any top four guy we had. Since he's gone out we've really missed him. He's not ready yet but today's a step and then we'll see in the next couple days if he's a full-time practice player or not."

When Bortuzzo does return, there will be some catching up to do.

"A little bit. We'll see," Hitchcock said. "This one wasn't as bad. He came back from the other injury up and running right away. We'll see. I think it's more in his head. Is he going to play careful or is he going to continue to play reckless because his game has a little bit of reckless in it that I think makes the other team nervous and helps us a lot. We'll see him once we get him into practice full time."

Bortuzzo, who was acquired in 2015 along with a seventh-round pick for fellow defenseman Ian Cole, is glad to know he's sticking around.

"Obviously the talks started when I was playing," Bortuzzo said. "It's definitely something I appreciate from them, knowing it's not too too serious. It's nice. It's definitely something I appreciated, that they were willing to keep the conversation going and ultimately getting it done.

"... When you have two sides that both want the same goal it's pretty easy. ... That's what I'm hoping, I can keep this going and when my family looks back, it will be as a Blue."

- - -

The Blues will keep the line of Alexander Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko and Jori Lehtera together tonight, but Steen will slide into the middle and Lehtera will move to left wing.

"Just looking at the next eight opponents, we're going to need more tempo in the middle of the ice," Hitchcock said. "We think 'Steener' can provide us with tempo. We played Lehtera on the wing in Nashville and when we looked back at the game tape to prepare for tonight, he played a heck of a game on the wing so we thought maybe this is the time to try it and take a look at it."

- - -

Jake Allen will start in goal after Carter Hutton played against the Flyers. Allen is scheduled to start Monday against the Blackhawks too. 

The Blues are 14-2-4 on home ice and have points in 16 of the past 17 at Scottrade Center (12-1-4) but the Blues are 4-5-1 the past 10 games overall after going 8-1-1 the previous 10. 

Steen is one assist from 300 in his NHL career and one point from 500 in NHL career.

David Perron has a three-game goal-scoring streak. 

Robby Fabbri is coming off his first NHL hat trick Wednesday and has five points (three goals, two assists) the past four games. 

Joel Edmundson has five assists the past five games. 

- - - 

The Blues' projected lineup:

Jaden Schwartz-Paul Stastny-David Perron

Jori Lehtera-Alexander Steen-Vladimir Tarasenko

Robby Fabbri-Patrik Berglund-Dmitrij Jaskin

Scottie Upshall-Kyle Brodziak-Ryan Reaves

Joel Edmundson-Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson-Kevin Shattenkirk

Jay Bouwmeester-Colton Parayko

Jake Allen will start in goal; Carter Hutton will be the backup. 

Healthy scratches include Nail Yakupov, Ty Rattie and Brad Hunt. Robert Bortuzzo (lower body) is still on injured-reserve but skating.

- - -

The Predators' projected lineup:

Filip Forsberg-Ryan Johansen-Viktor Arvidsson

Colin Wilson-Mike Fisher-Craig Smith

Kevin Fiala-Mike Ribeiro-James Neal

Reid Boucher-Calle Jarnkrok-Austin Watson

Roman Josi-Ryan Ellis

Mattias Ekholm-Matt Irwin

Yannick Weber-Petter Granberg

Juuse Saros is projected to start in goal; Pekka Rinne would be the backup. 

Healthy scratches could include Adam Pardy and Colton Sissons. P.K. Subban (upper body), Anthony Bitetto (hand) and Miikka Salomaki (lower body) are out.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Blues stayed on hunt in third period to help gain win over Flyers

When game was in balance, St. Louis stayed in attack mode when 
game was in balance, a stark contrast to recent games that got away

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Wednesday's 6-3 win for the Blues over the Philadelphia Flyers is a stern reminder of what's perhaps been lacking, or missing, in the Blues' game when the result recently has been in the balance.

The Blues and Flyers were tied 2-2 going into the third period, and this time, when Philadelphia took a lead within the first five minutes of the deciding period, the Blues didn't wilt.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues left wing Robby Fabbri (15) gets off a shot in front of Philadelphia's
Shayne Gostisbehere (53) on Wednesday.

They got on the hunt, quickly got the lead on tipped goals by David Perron and Scottie Upshall 1 minute, 20 seconds apart, and then instead of trying to protect the lead, the Blues (19-12-5) stayed on the attack.

"I think we're starting to feel the urgency of wanting regular success," Perron said. "Not just one win, one loss or whatever, two wins, one loss. We've got a nice homestand here. We want to put in a nice run here to go back on the road and hopefully follow it up there. I think that's the biggest thing. We're maybe feeling the urgency a little bit and I think it's coming through with the whole lineup."

The Blues pressed and pressured and Robby Fabbri scored goal Nos. 5 and 6 to complete his first NHL hat trick to open a season-long six-game homestand against one of the more hotter teams in recent time.

"It certainly isn't a game plan to protect the lead," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Quite frankly this year, we haven't had the lead very long in games. We haven't been able to put ourselves in position to manage games and sometimes you go through seasons like that where you're just clawing and scratching for every point and then sometimes during the year it kicks in. I think we're in one of those seasons where we haven't had a lead very much. We've been tied or we've had a lead and quickly it evaporated and we've had to play catch-up again. It seems like that's been this type of year where we haven't had opportunities to protect anything. 

"I thought what we did well yesterday was we really stayed in attack mode. We really played on our toes the whole game. After the the first five minutes of the game, we played on our toes, stayed on our toes and I think we saw what we can do offensively. That's a good team (in) Philadelphia. They've had one of the best records in the last 10 or 12 games in the league and we put a lot of pressure on them by staying on our toes."

The Blues got goals in hard-working areas and by getting to the net, scoring the type of goals that have been scored on them in recent games that have gotten away.

"I think we get the goals for the same reason," Hitchcock said. "It's extended zone time, so when we extend the zone time, that part opens up because you start chasing things and if you look at a lot of the traffic goals we've got, it's because we've had the puck in there, we've made them tired and then we've opened up space. I think when we hang onto the puck and when we skate, it seems that that's a big part of our game. When we try and make plays too quickly, then we allow the opposition to stay in coverage. ... It means basically the more we can make the opposition play straight-legged, the more the space opens up in the middle of the ice for us. It almost looks like you're on the power play."

And it's easy for the Blues to get caught up in the hoopla of the 2017 Bridgestone Winter Classic against the Chicago Blackhawks, a game that will be played Jan. 2 and is days away. But there's another big game Friday against the Nashville Predators, along with the one Wednesday the Blues won, that needs attention and one that got the Blues' attention.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues goalie Carter Hutton sprawls to the ice to cover up a loose puck in
front of teammates and lurking Flyers skaters Wednesday in  6-3 win.

"Obviously for the city, it's going to be one of the greatest events the city probably has had in the history, but I think for me right now, I'm focused on the next game," Perron said. "I hope everyone else is the same. For us, we're the lucky ones. We get to play in it, but we don't have much of the preparation to do it. It's all our organization, the city, many people that put this big event together. For us, we get to do the fun part and go play and that should be our only focus.

"... I think (Wednesday) we fed off the crowd, too. It was such a great crowd and to play in front of them. I think once we got the third goal, a lot of pressure came off. The great thing is even after 'Uppy' scores, it's 4-3, but you never know what can happen. I just thought we kept pressuring and doing the right thing. We had the killer instinct that we talked about that we want to have and we need to have to close games out and we did that."

Blues extend Bortuzzo for two years

Defenseman gets extension for $2.3 
million that keeps him in St. Louis through 2019

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- The St. Louis Blues will keep Robert Bortuzzo in the fold for at least the near future after signing the defenseman to a two-year, $2.3 million contract extension on Thursday.

Bortuzzo's current contract, a two-year, $2.1 million contract signed in 2015, was set to expire at the end of this season. The new one runs through the 2018-19 season.
(file photo)
Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo signed a two-year extension Thursday
that keeps him in St. Louis through 2019. 

"He's been here, he's got a great character and guys are always pulling for him," Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said of Bortuzzo, who is currently on injured-reserve with a lower-body injury. "Somebody you can rely on to give you energy and he supports his teammates all the time. I think that's something that when you sign somebody, you know he's well-liked by his teammates and they're excited for him and that's certainly the case with Robert."

The 27-year-old Bortuzzo has one goal and one assist in 11 games with St. Louis this season. He has eight goals and 27 points in 177 NHL games.

The Blues acquired Bortuzzo from the Pittsburgh Penguins for defenseman Ian Cole on March 2, 2015 and finally started to get regular time in the Blues' lineup this season after being relegated to primarily being the seventh defensemen.

"We use the term loosely, but it means a lot for him; he's glue," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of Bortuzzo. "He's the glue to the team. He's able to get along with everybody, he brings an energy into the game. 

"When he first came here, he was more energy than good play and you loved him, but he had mistakes in his game. He's eliminated all those mistakes and now he's just flat a good player and our team, when he's playing, is playing really well. I think a big part of it is a combination of energy and good play. He's not afraid to play in any situation. He's a glue guy. His enthusiasm for his teammates really invigorates the locker room. When he's not here, there's a noticeable difference."

Bortuzzo has been limited to just the 11 games this season because of two separate stints on IR, both with lower-body injuries, but it's something the Blues aren't concerned with.

"Not really; they're (injuries) not because of a lack of training," Armstrong said. "They're sort of freak injuries. Those happen in the game. Obviously we know he's going to be healthy.

"He hasn't gotten the greatest opportunities since he's been here. We've been pretty flush on that right side, but when he goes in there, he gives us really good minutes. Before his injuries, he was starting to make a player that was difficult for the coach to take out and the game evolves obviously, but at the end of the day, he provides an element that all teams want to have for not only what he does on the ice, but just an unbelievable character off the ice. He's someone that sees the glass half full and someone that we're excited to have with us."

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Fabbri's first NHL hat trick fuels' Blues' 6-3 win over Flyers

Perron, Upshall score 1:20 apart to erase 
third-period deficit in four-goal third period

ST. LOUIS -- Robby Fabbri wasn't sure when the last time he registered a hat trick in a game, but he knew he's scored them before.

"I had some in junior," he said. "My first one here."

This will go down as a date Fabbri will never forget after scoring his first NHL hat trick in a 6-3 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday before 19,409 at Scottrade Center.

Fabbri's last hat trick, as a matter of fact, came March 22, 2015 playing junior hockey for the Guelph Storm against the Sarnia Sting; he didn't know that.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues left wing Robby Fabbri (15) is congratulated by teammates after 
scoring one of his three goals Wednesday against Philadelphia.

"I couldn't tell you that; it's been a while," Fabbri said.

According to Sportsnet stats, Fabbri became the second-youngest player in franchise history (20 years, 11 months) to score a hat trick behind Bernie Federko.

"The break really helped him. He was really beat up," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of Fabbri. "And getting four days off helped him heal. 

"He was really hurting the last four, five games. He was able just to barely play, but he feels good physically and I think you can see it in the jump in his game."

David Perron and Scottie Upshall scored goals 1:20 apart in the third to help the Blues erase a 3-2 Flyers lead. 

Perron tied it 3-3 with a deflection at 5:53 of a Colton Parayko shot, and Upshall put the Blues (19-12-5) ahead 4-3 with a deflection of his own at 7:13 of a Joel Edmundson shot.

"Our ‘D’ did a great job of shooting with their heads up, getting them through that first layer," Upshall said. "A goal of ours is to get in front of the net and be strong in those red areas and we did a great job. It was a big effort in the third for our team."

The Blues scored four times in the third period on five shots; they had three third-period goals the previous nine games (all in two games against New Jersey).

"I think we've had a lot of these go our way at home," said Hitchcock, whose team improved to 14-2-4 on home ice with points in 16 of the past 17 (12-1-4). "We just stay on it. We trust our work at home and believe in it and just stay on it."

Kevin Shattenkirk also scored for the Blues, who got two assists from Parayko and Dmitrij Jaskin. Backup goalie Carter Hutton made 17 saves for his first win since Nov. 5.

"I've watched too many close games to worry about that," Hutton said. "It's about winning games, so obviously I'm pretty excited right now." 

Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn each had a goal and an assist, Nick Cousins scored, and Travis Konecky had two assists for the Flyers (20-13-4), who got 19 saves from Steve Mason and lost for the fourth time in five games (1-3-1) after a 10-game winning streak.

"We wanted just too easy of a night," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. "We wanted to play too easy of a game. We have to be better and we'll address that and we're not going into easy places to play the rest of this road trip, so we'll sort it out and get back to work tomorrow and that's the bottom line." 

Simmonds scored his 17th goal, most on the Flyers, to give Philadelphia a 1-0 lead 3:25 into the game, but St. Louis got two power-play goals, from Shattenkirk at 15:01 after a slick shot-fake from Alexander Steen and shot from the high slot through traffic and Fabbri with 11.7 seconds remaining in the first, to take a 2-1 lead, after Parayko found Fabbri in the slot for another shot through traffic by Perron.

It's the Blues' first multi power-play game since Dec. 1 against Tampa Bay, a span of 12 games.

"It seems like we've been going in streaks here with the power play," Fabbri said. "Good start with Shatty's goal there and we've just got to keep that going and have the consistency."

The Flyers scored the only goal in the second period when Cousins deflected Ivan Provorov’s wrist shot from the left point. After Cousins tipped it in the slot, the puck caromed off Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson and got past Hutton at 4:32 to tie it 2-2. 

The Blues reviewed the play for offsides, but the goal stood.

The Flyers had an apparent goal by Schenn waved off 3:45 into the third period when the referee lost sight of the puck and intended to blow the whistle, but Schenn scored to put Philadelphia up 3-2 at 4:13 with a power-play goal. 

Fabbri scored his second of the game with 4:59 remaining to put the Blues up 5-3, a microcosm of the Blues' goals for the game; he dug a puck off the half wall in the offensive zone away from Cousins, moved it into the left circle before beating Mason short side.

"I sort of felt (Cousins) on my shoulder there so I tried to spin off of him," Fabbri said. "It ended up working. 'Bergy' and 'Jasky' took their guys to the net and gave me a lane there."

Fabbri completed the Blues' third hat trick of the season (Perron and Vladimir Tarasenko) with an empty-netter with 2:56 remaining.

"It's a cool feeling. It's special," Fabbri said. "To get it in a win is even better."

But for the Blues, the theme of the night was workmanlike goals. They got plenty of them.

"All traffic goals," Hitchcock said. "Both power-play goals were traffic goals. We had traffic at the net every time. 'Fabs' is another example, everything is traffic. Traffic goals like crazy. 
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues goalie Carter Hutton (40) makes one of 17 saves against the Flyers
for his first win since Nov. 5.

"We can play a heavy game. It's not fun to play that way, but that's how we're built. We can play a heavy game if we get our minds set. We played heavy today which is a good sign."

And this time, instead of the game going the other way, the Blues found a way to be the closers.

"Our team for the most part, when we got down by a goal early, we didn’t flinch," Upshall said. "We held our game.

"We've had chances to close out games, we've found ways to lose them. And good teams play well with the lead. We're learning and we can be better, but tonight was great."

(12-28-16) Flyers-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Kevin Shattenkirk had an amazed look on his face after the Wednesday morning skate.

The Blues' defenseman was a bit surprised when informed that tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers (7 p.m. on NBCSN, KMOX 1120-AM) will be the 400th of his Blues career.

"That's awesome," Shattenkirk said. "That's wild."

It will be Shattenkirk's 446th NHL game overall (46 were played with the Colorado Avalanche), but his Blues career started on Feb. 19, 2011 when he was acquired along with right wing Chris Stewart and a 2011 second-round pick (which the Blues used on forward Ty Rattie) for former No. 1 overall pick, defenseman Erik Johnson, center Jay McClement and a 2011 first-round pick.

"There's quite a few. My first game here was pretty memorable, we had a big win over Anaheim, Chris Stewart and I were able to chip in too, which was great," Shattenkirk said. "More than anything we were welcomed with open arms, which was a comforting feeling. We've had big games since, last year were a lot of highlights. A couple of those Game 7s were fun to play in, fun to win. There's been quite a few, I think more importantly, out of the 400, there have been a lot of successful ones, a lot of wins in there, that's probably the best feeling."

Shattenkirk's travel day and first game with the Blues when he was acquired from the Avalanche was quite interesting.

"We were in San Jose. We found out at about midnight," Shattenkirk said. "We left the next morning at like 5 a.m., flew to Salt Lake City, got into town here at about 3 o'clock and I remember we had sushi for a pregame meal in the Central West End. I think about 4 o'clock, Carlo Colaiacovo, we hopped into his car and he took us down to the rink and got to meet everyone and played the game."

Shattenkirk, scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, has 55 goals and 184 assists in his time with the Blues, so the trade has definitely worked out for St. Louis in that regard.

- - -

Goalie Carter Hutton, who will start tonight for only the fourth time in 21 games, was the center of attention at practice on Tuesday after the Blues returned from their Christmas break.

His all-gold goalie pads with matching glove and blocker certainly stood out at the Ice Zone. 

But the color scheme wasn't his first choice. It will be THE choice come Monday when the Blues host the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2017 Bridgestone Winter Classic.

"They couldn't match the blue. We got a set made with the blue and it looked almost navy, so it wasn't even close so we went all gold," Hutton said. "It was the only color they could match.

"I used to wear a set like that in junior, my last year, we were pretty sick, we won a championship, so same thing, I was pretty good in those, maybe I'll be pretty good in those. Switch it right out. It was the only color (CCM) could match."

Hutton, who last played in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Dec. 19, will get a tough test tonight in the Flyers (20-12-4), who recently came off a 10-game winning streak.

"I just feel like I want to reward a guy that … he's competed like heck, he's played really well in his last game," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "I feel like I want to reward that. We know that Jake (Allen's) got a lot of games in him, this gives him a chance to reset the dial for three practices in a row and then get ready to play on the 30th and the 2nd."

- - -

The Blues are 2-4-1 in their last seven games but 13-2-4 at home, and they begin a season-long six-game homestand tonight.

Home cooking is what it's going to have to get the Blues going and on a run of their own if they want to keep up with some of the teams above them (Chicago and red-hot Minnesota) in the Central Division standings.

"We saw how much it helped what we did on our last homestand, it's kept us in good position in the standings," Shattenkirk said. "If we're able to attain success, hopefully that can help us to getting some success on the road. I think we need to treat these games pretty importantly. They're pretty tough matchups, with the winter classic on Monday, we can use these games to get our game back to where it used to be. And that will help us for looking down the road and worrying about Monday."

Coming off the break, the Blues last played six days ago.

"I think we've got an advantage because we were able to practice yesterday and have a full pregame skate today," Hitchcock said. "We've had two skates, some have just pregame skates or casual practices. In Dallas' case, they had a travel day from hell. We're pretty lucky. Both teams were able to practice yesterday and then get on to the task of playing the game. We feel like we're prepared. We know how well Philadelphia is playing, we know the composure they're playing with and it will be a good challenge for us."

- - -

The Blues activated center Paul Stastny off injured-reserve and he will be in the lineup tonight.

Defenseman Carl Gunnarsson will step back in and replace Brad Hunt after being a healthy scratch in Tampa against the Lightning.

- - - 

The Blues' projected lineup:

Alexander Steen-Jori Lehtera-Vladimir Tarasenko

Jaden Schwartz-Paul Stastny-David Perron

Robby Fabbri-Patrik Berglund-Dmitrij Jaskin

Scottie Upshall-Kyle Brodziak-Ryan Reaves

Joel Edmundson-Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson-Kevin Shattenkirk

Jay Bouwmeester-Colton Parayko

Carter Hutton will start in goal; Jake Allen will be the backup.

Healthy scratches include Nail Yakupov, Ty Rattie and Brad Hunt. Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo (lower body) is still on IR.

- - -

The Flyers' projected lineup:

Taylor Leier-Claude Giroux-Jakub Voracek

Travis Konecny-Brayden Schenn-Wayne Simmonds

Nick Cousins-Sean Couturier-Dale Weise

Chris VandeVelde-Pierre-Edouard Bellemare-Roman Lyubimov

Ivan Provorov-Andrew MacDonald

Michael Del Zotto-Radko Gudas

Nick Schultz-Shayne Gostisbehere

Steve Mason will start in goal; Anthony Stolarz will be the backup. 

Healthy scratches include Boyd Gordon and Brandon Manning. Michal Neuvirth (lower body), Matt Read (upper body), Mark Streit (shoulder) and Michael Raffl (knee) are out.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


Blues back to work after holiday hiatus; Winter Classic 
approaching; Stastny, Allen back on the ice; outdoor game uniform sneak peak 

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- The Blues were back at work after a four-day hiatus away from the rink, away from the coaching staff, away from video sessions, away from training sessions ... basically all things hockey were put on hold.

The Blues will go six days between games, a nice breather after a condensed schedule that had them play 10 games in 17 days to close out the pre-Christmas portion of the schedule.

But it was back to work Tuesday for the Blues (18-12-5) in preparation for a huge six-game homestand that begins today against the Philadelphia Flyers (20-12-4) at 7 p.m. (NBCSN, KMOX 1120-AM).

"Our execution was good today," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We have some things we need to get better at. We just have to find a way to cut down scoring chances against. In order to do that, it's based mostly on puck management. I thought the guys really paid attention to that today, and then as they started to do that, they saw more scoring chances coming, which really elevated the excitement level, which to me is good.

"I think the sense of urgency is elevated with us because we've put some pressure on ourselves not being able to win on the road. The pressure at home is getting magnified because every home game is going to feel like a four-point game. I just don't want to see us in a hurry to get back out on the road and prove ourselves again. We've got top opponents coming right now, teams that are on top of their game and I think we've got to play awful well to get points from, but I think it's almost made the home games even more important because we've got to get the points there because some of the teams like now, you've got Montreal going on the road (for an) extended trip. You've got other teams going on the road for extended trips. We're going to end up being one of those teams in a couple weeks. We've got to get as many points as we can right now. ... Our goal every 40 games is to get 45 points and I think we're seven or eight points short of that with five games left so we've got some work to do. We reached our goal the first segment. We've got some work to do to get it in the second segment here."

The Blues begin the longest homestand (six games) of the season with the Flyers, Nashville Predators and then the long-anticipated 2017 Bridgestone Winter Classic on Jan. 2 against the Chicago Blackhawks, a game that's rapidly approaching.

"It's hectic for everyone, I think, especially not more or less us, but the training staff, our team organization," goalie Jake Allen said. "It's exciting times for everyone. Really looking forward to it. Obviously got two big games before that, but it's in the back of our minds. It's hard not to be excited and prepared for it. Just seeing everyone with the colors on, I think they look great.

"That's an exciting time; it's going to be a fun game, but we get all these games in a row at home and we're pretty fortunate that the schedule leans that way in our favor. Hopefully we can really take advantage of it and move our way up the standings and get back to the top of our division. I think it's a great chance. We have some divisional games. "

It doesn't diminish the fact that perhaps some rest and relaxation with family and friends was what the doctor ordered.

"Break was great," left wing Alexander Steen said. "It gave guys time to heal the body a little bit and come back rejuvenated and excited."

"It's been a busy month for us," captain Alex Pietrangelo said. "Didn't end the way we wanted it to either. I think guys took an opportunity to kind of get away from rink, get away from the game, enjoy time with their families. We've got a lot of hockey coming up, Winter Classic, staying busy with that. Before you know it, it'll be March and we'll be gone with that. You need to enjoy all the time you can to be with your families."

* Stastny, Allen back on the ice -- Allen, who left the Blues' last game, a 5-2 loss at Tampa Bay, late with a lower-body injury, and center Paul Stastny, who did not play because of an upper-body injury, were both skating and part of the regular group.

Allen will not play against the Flyers, as backup Carter Hutton will get the start, but will return against the Predators on Friday; he appeared to twist his left ankle trying to stop a Jonathan Drouin goal with under two minutes to play.

"Quick bang-bang play," Allen said. "Sort of just more precaution than anything. I don't even know how much time, maybe a minute left. Hitch just puts 'Hutts' in just in case. No big deal.

"You never know, but it is what it is. It's nice to have the rest when we did. It felt alright out there today."

Stastny left the game on Dec. 20 early in the third period against the Dallas Stars. He sat on the bench after momentarily leaving the bench area but returned. He did not take another shift and missed the loss to the Lightning.

"Good. Getting better," Stastny said when asked how he felt. "We'll see. It felt good today in practice. If no setbacks, I'll play tomorrow.

"I think it was just a wear and tear issue and as the game went on, it just got worse and worse and it was a tightness. I felt it the game before too, after the Chicago game, after the Edmonton game. I think just the three in four with the travel didn't really help off. ... I was fortunate with the timing we had to have that and then have three or four days. Let it flare down a bit."

Hitchcock had Stastny between Jaden Schwartz and David Perron.

"We knew a couple days ago he'd be good to go so he's good; that's a good feeling for us," Hitchcock said. "When Ray (Barile) came back to the bench, he said, 'He's fine,' and I just thought, 'I'm not taking a chance here. We're down two goals; we're going to pull the goalie anyways and it's best that he gets out.' I knew on the 24th that (Allen) was going to be fine for practice."

* Winter Classic gear tease -- The Blues were sporting some of their Winter Classic attire at practice, wearing the pants and helmets they will use in competition on Monday at Busch Stadium.

"Pretty sweet," Pietrangelo said. "Bring back the old-school."

Allen wore his new pads, half and half color of Blues colors blue and gold.

"I think Vaughn did a great job and designed them for me," Allen said. "They look really well. They match our uniforms, which look very nice. It's pretty cool to wear them for the first time.

"Goalies get more excited about gear than some of the players do, but I think 'Hutts' gear and my gear look pretty good with the jerseys."

Hutton stood out more than any; he wore the solid gold mitts with matching blocker and glove.

"He went with a little bolder approach," Allen said of Hutton. "I like them. It's different. It's a chance to have some fun with it."

And then there was left wing Robby Fabbri, who broke out the blue blades he will be wearing that have meaning. Fabbri's just not saying yet what they stand for.

"We're not putting anything out for right now, but yeah," Fabbri said. "Today was the first day I wore them. Yeah, I think they match perfectly and it's something different. It'll be explained.

"... I thought it was awesome. I think it was cool change there. I think the colors go good together. I think it's going to look good."

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Blues flop late again, fall 5-2 to Lightning

Despite Megan's first NHL goal, team can't hold 
two-goal lead, allow five unanswered to limp into holiday break

TAMPA, Fla. -- Repeated deficiencies cost the Blues again heading into the Christmas holidays, and they'll have a week to stew on losing a two-goal lead on the road again.

It started out as what was going to be a feel-good story for Wade Megan, who the Blues recalled earlier in the day from the Chicago Wolves to play in his first NHL game because of the upper-body injury to Paul Stastny, and Megan scored his first NHL goal, but a common theme for the road bit the Blues again, and they succumbed to the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2 on Thursday at Amalie Arena.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues goalie Jake Allen and teammate Brad Hunt (middle) look to defend 
a shot from the Lightning's Brayden Point on Thursday.

Megan and David Perron staked the Blues (18-12-5) to a 2-0 first-period lead, but as the temperature of the game ratcheted up, the Lightning (17-14-3) won the necessary battles that fueled five unanswered goals. 

Jonathan Drouin led the way with two goals and an assist, Brian Boyle, Michel Bournival and Alex Killorn each scored for the Lightning and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 21 saves, including the final 15 he would see.

To make matters worse for the Blues, Jake Allen, who made 27 saves, left after Drouin's goal with 1 minute, 40 seconds remaining after the Lightning wing fell on his leg and Allen would not finish the game, but coach Ken Hitchcock said, "He'll be fine." 

But it comes down to the same picture for the Blues, one that was very reminiscent to the game they played in Nashville on on Dec. 13: go up 3-0 on the road, lose the game 6-3.

And in recent losses, they've been attributed to losing puck battles along walls, allowing pucks to play out from the point and get through before ultimately losing battles in front of the Blues' net.

When asked why this seems to be a common theme why this happens as games move along, Hitchcock was very candid.

"You mean on the road? It's a competitive issue, isn't it," he said. "It's our job to figure it out, but the game's 60 minutes; you've got to play 60 minutes and we didn't."

Forward Jaden Schwartz agreed.

"We had a good start and just got away from it a little bit," Schwartz said. "They won a lot of 1-on-1 battles and ended up taking advantage of a few mistakes, but I just think it came down to board battles and net-front battles and we lost too many of them. And they took advantage.

"They might have wanted it a little more in the third period. The 1-on-1 battles, like I said, it came down to that. We'll have to bounce back after here after Christmas and regroup a little bit, but obviously it wasn't our best effort tonight as the game gone on."

Some solid saves from Allen, and two goals by Perron and Megan a 32-second span gave the Blues a 2-0 first-period lead.

Perron put the Blues ahead when he was able to pick off Brayden Point's pass to Braydon Coburn, went to his backhand and beat Vasilevskiy at 14:11. 

Then Megan, who was recalled earlier in the day from the Chicago Wolves, scored in his first NHL game when he dropped a puck to Ryan Reaves at the blue line, went to the net and followed Reaves' shot and beat Vasilevskiy from the side at 14:43.

"Obviously it would have felt a lot better if it came with a win, but it's certainly a good feeling," Megan said. "I was able to enter the zone there and kind of drop it off to Reaves, who made a great shot. A nice low, hard shot and it just ended up on my stick and pretty much an empty cage."

Allen made some key saves in the first, one on Nikita Nesterov in right off Tyler Johnson's pass, then another late in the period on Erik Condra from the slot.

The Blues didn't sustain much offense in the second period with only four shots and saw the Lightning draw even.

Both goals were as a result of deflections in front, something Hitchcock has lamented recently from his team.

Boyle's power play goal came after he was parked in front of Allen and tipped a Victor Hedman shot from the point at 9:48.

Then Bournival tied it late after the Lightning's J.T. Brown won the battle along the wall and below the goal line with Joel Edmundson, got it to the point, and Jason Garrison's shot was tipped by Bournival with 2:33 remaining in the period to tie it 2-2.

"They just took the game over. They just took the game from us," Hitchcock said. "We had a great first period. When they scored their second goal, they took the game over. They won the board battles, they had heavier sticks, they took her over. We weren't able to create anything, we weren't able to win any of the battles to do it."

It continued into the third period when Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman danced around Robby Fabbri, got the puck back to Killorn, who stepped into the high slot and beat Allen through a maze of traffic far side as the Blues had four skaters collapse. Neither forward (Kyle Brodziak or Dmitrij Jaskin) stepped up to pick up Killorn, and both defenseman (Colton Parayko and Jay Bouwmeester) took Allen's eyes away and couldn't get a shot block. 

The goal put the Lightning ahead 3-2 just 5:25 into the third and once the Blues were chasing, they didn't muster up much of a chance.

"It seems we get the lead, and we kind of go into a lull almost instead of keep pushing," Parayko said. "We're getting the lead for a reason, so I think we kind of deviate away from the game plan when we get the lead to try and hold the lead almost. It's an opportunity for us that we should keep pushing. That's the only reason we got to where we were, 2-0, but they came hard and we didn't really have an answer.

"A couple big bodies in the net-front there. It's always tough for the goalie, especially if there's screens and stuff. I think the first goal they scored tipped off my stick. I was just trying to get the guy in front. It's just the way it goes, but they're a team that throws pucks at the net and take the goalie's eyes away and if you can't see the puck, it's ultimately pretty tough to save it, especially with these kinds of players in the league that can pick corners and stuff like that. When you have three seconds, that's a lot of time to figure out where you're going to shoot."

"We had a good start to the third period," Hitchcock said. "Then we got scored on. When it went 3-2, we had a little bit of a push, but not near enough."

Drouin put the game away with 1:40 remaining after the Blues turned it over at the Tampa blue line, Valtteri Filppula cut the puck inside past Bouwmeester in the Blues' zone, found Drouin sneaking behind Patrik Berglund and he went to his backhand and beat Allen, who appeared to twist his left ankle on the play trying to cut back and make a save falling back towards the goal.

Drouin added an empty-netter with 31 seconds.

"It's one of those things where if you had the answer, you'd just fix it real easy," Bouwmeester said. "If we want to get to where we want to get to, we've got to clean it up. I think it's just keep playing a simple game, keep working. Tonight, I think they just kind of took over the game that way. They forced some turnovers, they did a good job. They kept going and we just kind of let them take the momentum.

"I don't think it's any X's and O's or anything like that. You've just got to decide as a group that you're going to do it. You can talk until you're blue in the face. It's pretty much what's been going on. But at the end of the day, you've got to buckle down and do it."
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues forward Jaden Schwartz (17) chases Tampa Bay's Brayden Point
during action on Thursday in the Lightning's 5-2 victory.

Asked what the problem is, Bouwmeester was also candid.

"It's everything, it's ... hockey. Everything's connected," he said. "It's not one thing. If it keeps happening over and over again, then it's just overall, you're not good enough. It's something that we can clean up. We've shown we've gotten out to leads and we've played well at times. But we just haven't been competitive enough."

The Blues, who just wrapped up 10 games in 17 days, including five in eight days, get some much-needed rest. Guys look tired and weary.

"Everyone's getting a few days off and get some rest," Schwartz said. "We've played a lot of games lately with some travel. It'll be nice to rest and regroup and we should be energized after the break."

(12-22-16) Blues-Lightning Gameday Lineup

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Blues (18-11-5) put center Paul Stastny on injured-reserve on Thursday and recalled center Wade Megan, who will make his NHL debut today against the Tampa Bay Lightning (6:30 p.m.; FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM).

Stastny, who sustained an upper-body injury in a 3-2 overtime win against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday, will not play tonight and the expectation is he'll only miss the one game tonight since the Blues don't play again until Dec. 28 when they begin a six-game homestand against the Philadelphia Flyers.

"It's day-to-day," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "I think we fully expect him to be ready to go when we come back. We've got a four-day break. That's lots of time; we've got a lot of time."

Megan, recalled from the Chicago Wolves who signed a one-year, two-way contract this past summer, was a fifth-round pick of the Florida Panthers in 2009; he had 13 goals and 11 assists in 28 games for the Wolves this season.

Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk knows a thing or two about the 6-foot-1, 194-pound Megan since they played together in college at Boston University.

"He's a really smart player," Shattenkirk said. "Not a full comparison, but he plays like 'Stas' in a way where he's always in a good supporting role for the puck. He's really strong on his stick. He's not extremely fast speed-wise, but he's got tremendous skill. He's got great hands around the net, finds pucks. He's just a very smart player. He does a lot of good things because he reads the game very well. So for me, that's what we're going to get out of him and obviously he's doing well down in the minors for him to be getting this call up."

The loss of Stastny means the lineup will be a bit fluid tonight, and during the morning skate here at Amalie Arena, Kyle Brodziak was taking the shifts as the third-line center between Robby Fabbri and Dmitrij Jaskin.

"It's going to be a little different," Brodziak said. "Obviously 'Stas' is a huge part of our team. He plays against top players, takes tons of faceoffs, very good at faceoffs. Yeah, we're definitely going to miss him, but it's got to be a little more onus on everyone else to elevate their game.

"When you're called to go on the ice, you've got to make sure you're giving it your best performance. We understand that we're missing a very important piece, but it's opportunity for other guys to try and fill that void and do it to the best of their abilities."

Hitchcock said he will decide during the first period whether to keep Brodziak on that line or put Megan, who did not arrive in time for the morning skate but arrived in time for the game, on that line.

"I'm not sure yet," Hitchcock said. "We'll talk to him and see how his energy is. We would be remiss if we didn't look at Brodziak. He's really playing well right now, so whether it's him or 'Megs,' we'll see. I might make that adjustment in the first period to see how both guys look."

But from all accounts, it was Megan that deserved the call-up.

"Our understanding is he's played really well," Hitchcock said. "He's gotten great reports down there. Obviously he's scoring like crazy and smart player. He was noticeable in training camp, stayed right to the end of training camp, which is a good sign. Obviously if you're looking for a center, he's the guy you choose because he's dominating down there."

The Brodziak line with Scottie Upshall and Ryan Reaves has been one of the Blues' most consistent recently, if not all season. Would it be tough for Hitchcock to split it up for the time being?

"No, not at all. It's easy to break up," he said. "'Brodzy's a third-line center. He plays on the fourth line here but plays third-line minutes. He's a third-line center. This is the best year he's had since he came here. He's been a third-line center his whole life. I'm sure he can handle a few games there right now."

The fact Megan, 26, was able to stay in training camp until the end of it gave him some time with the current crop of NHL players, but he will be thrown right into the fire presently with no practices.

"That's everyone who gets called up and gets the opportunity," Shattenkirk said. "I think you have to run with it, and my mindset when I got called up was that they told me I was going to be there for two weeks and I was just going to try and play like myself for two weeks. I think if he has that mentality and can get him to get there, obviously you have to remind the guy he's just doing something right for him to get called up. It's the same thing for Brad when he came and we played together. I just told him, 'Whatever you're doing is working, so don't try and change it because you're playing with me. Just play hockey.' We're all good players, we'll all start to jell eventually."

Defenseman Brad Hunt, who played with Megan in Chicago this season, said the Blues will get a good player.

"He's just hard-nosed and would do anything for the team, a hard-working player," Hunt said. "He's a great teammate. His game's all about hard work and doing the right things for the team. I feel that's pretty transitional. He plays the game the right way and he'll do things that will help the team."

- - -

Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo was back on the ice after missing the game Tuesday after falling sick.

Pietrangelo will be back in the lineup tonight, meaning Carl Gunnarsson will be a healthy scratch.

"It's never fun to get sick," Pietrangelo said. "Whatever's in my system is out now, I think. Rough couple days for me, but body's working its way back so as close to 100 percent as I can feel."

Pietrangelo was at American Airlines Center on Tuesday but only heard things about it, including the play of the defensive pairs.

"I didn't even get to watch the game," he said. "I tried to make it to a TV, but didn't quite make it there. I was just listening for the goal horn and only heard it twice. Maybe that was a good sign.

"I hear good things. I heard they did a good job back there. They held their own. A win's a win, so we'll take it."

- - -

The Lightning (16-14-3) have been hit hard by the injury bug themselves, including goalie and St. Louis native Ben Bishop, who was placed on IR Wednesday with a lower-body injury that will sideline 'Big Ben' 3-4 weeks.

The Lightning is also expected to be without leading scorer Nikita Kucherov (lower body), Ondrej Palat (undisclosed), Ryan Callahan for an 11th straight game (lower body). Cedric Paquette (upper body) and Vladislav Namestnikov (undisclosed) were not part of the morning skate and may not play. Of course, the Lightning have been without Steven Stamkos (knee) since Nov. 15.

Tampa Bay is expected to dress 11 forwards and seven defensemen.

- - -

The Blues' projected lineup (Brodziak and Megan could flip spots):

Jaden Schwartz-Jori Lehtera-Vladimir Tarasenko

Alexander Steen-Patrik Berglund-David Perron

Robby Fabbri-Wade Megan-Dmitrij Jaskin

Scottie Upshall-Kyle Brodziak-Ryan Reaves

Joel Edmundson-Alex Pietrangelo

Brad Hunt-Kevin Shattenkirk

Jay Bouwmeester-Colton Parayko

Jake Allen will start in goal; Carter Hutton will be the backup. 

Healthy scratches include Carl Gunnarsson, Nail Yakupov and Ty Rattie. Paul Stastny (upper body) is on injured reserve but day to day and Robert Bortuzzo (lower body) is still on IR.

- - -

The Lightning's projected lineup:

Brian Boyle-Valtteri Filppula-Jonathan Drouin

Alex Killorn-Tyler Johnson-Brayden Point

Cory Conacher-Tanner Richard-J.T. Brown

Michael Bournival-Erik Condra

Victor Hedman-Andrej Sustr

Jason Garrison-Anton Stralman

Slater Koekkoek-Braydon Coburn

Nikita Nesterov

Andrei Vasilevskiy will start in goal; Kristers Gudlevskis will be the backup.

The Lightning has no healthy scratches. Injuries include Ben Bishop (lower body), Ryan Callahan (lower body), Steven Stamkos (knee injury), Nikita Kucherov (lower body), Ondrej Palat (undisclosed), Cedric Paquette (lower body) and Vladislav Namestnikov (sick).