By LOU KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- Playing the second of back-to-back games today, the Blues (17-19-4) will mix up their lineup when they host the Dallas Stars (22-17-4) at 7 p.m. (FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM).
The Blues lost forward Alexander Steen to a left shoulder injury in the first period of a 3-0 win at Philadelphia on Monday and was placed on injured-reserve; he'll be reevaluated in two weeks.
"It's a tough loss for sure," Blues interim coach Craig Berube said. "With Bozak being out, two young guys getting a chance."
Center Ivan Barbashev left the game in the first period but returned to play or the Blues would have been down to nine forwards for the remainder of the game.
Center Tyler Bozak missed his first game of the season with an upper-body injury and is day-to-day; he will miss a second straight game tonight.
"It’s a tough turnaround obviously," Berube said after the win Monday. "They get rest and come in to be ready tomorrow. We’re going to put some fresh bodies in tomorrow."
It means that Robby Fabbri, a healthy scratch Monday, will be back in the lineup as will Sammy Blais, who was recalled from San Antonio of the American Hockey League but joined the team in St. Louis in time to play tonight.
"Tenacity and energy," Berube said of what he's looking for from Fabbri. "He's got to get skating. He's still a little cautious with his feet. His game is tenacity and getting on the forecheck and being a hard guy to play against. He's been out a long time, but he's got to get skating again and get his energy levels up and get on the foreheck. That's his game. When he's on people, on the puck, tenacious around the net, that's where we're going to need him.
"... I liked Sammy early on in the season; he was an effective player. He was physical and around the forecheck, working real hard. I thought that dropped off, but for me, that's his game. He gets up the ice, he can skate, he's got to be physical and when he gets the puck, he can do good things with it. He's got really good hands and can make plays, and he's got a really good shot."
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It was quite the night for Jordan Binnington, who recorded the 25-save shutout in his first NHL start to become the 35th goalie in NHL history to win via shutout in his first NHL start. He was the second goalie in Blues history to do so, joining Rich Parent, who blanked the San Jose Sharks 3-0 on Jan. 26, 1999 in his first NHL start after making four relief appearances. Binnington had previously made three relief appearances, including two this season.
"I think I was a little bit nervous, but at the same time calm and just tried to focus on my job and just stop the puck," said Binnington, who is now on a run of back-to-back shutouts after getting one with the Rampage before being recalled on Saturday. "Go save by save, minute by minute and just enjoy the experience and before I knew it, the game was over.
"... I was definitely excited to finally get the call and it was a long road. I’m happy where I’m at right now and I’m hoping to get some more action and be a part of the solution on the rise of the Blues."
A third round pick in 2011, Binnington has paid his dues.
"He did great," Berube said of Binnington. "Made a couple of huge saves in the first period to keep it 0-0 and that’s really important. I thought he was solid all game. Very confident, even coming out and playing the puck. He moved it really well and crisply. He looked really good."
Even with Binnington's shutout, the Blues will turn back to Jake Allen for the divisional game against the Stars and hometown boy Ben Bishop, who gets the nod for Dallas tonight.
"Back to back games, kid did a really great job last night," Berube said. "The veteran guy's going tonight."
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Stars coach Jim Montgomery took quite the interesting road during his playing career, one in which began here in St. Louis with the Blues in 1993-94 after signing as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Maine.
"I remember the old Arena, it was the last year of it," said Montgomery, in his first season as coach of the Stars who had his most productive NHL season with 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) in 67 games here. "I just remember the talented players that I played with, a cast of characters. Kelly Chase, Brett Hull, Brendan Shanahan, Cujo [Curtis Joseph], Basil McRae. You're breaking into the best league and it was a great city, very vibrant. The fans were fantastic, and then we had (general manager) Ron Caron up in the box, and he's more animated than any player on the ice. That's what I primarily remember besides the great friends that I met here in St. Louis that I still have to this day."
Montgomery was just getting started and had to deal with the business side of it and was traded to the Montreal Canadiens the following season for Guy Carbonneau before bouncing around from the AHL to playing in Germany and Russia and other stops in the NHL, including Philadelphia and San Jose.
But Montgomery, who spent the last eight years of his playing career training in St. Louis during the summer months and skated with Blues players, played his final season of professional hockey in 2004-05 brought him back to the area to play for the Missouri River Otters of the United Hockey League on advice from ... former Blues coach Joel Quenneville.
"I was trying to get into coaching and I couldn't find a job," Montgomery said. "No one was returning calls, so the River Otters had a team and they called me and said, 'Would you be interested in us,' and I said, 'Yeah, I may as well play.' Because I didn't have enough time to hit the coaching circuit well enough and it worked out really well for me.
"I was a player-assistant coach. It was very different, but it was a good experience to get my feet wet. Also I learned how to deal with players when you're a player and also an assistant coach. It was something that Joel Quenneville, I was at OB Clarks and having lunch, I was picking his brain. He goes, 'I'd suggest doing that if you can't get a regular coaching job.' I've picked Joel Quenneville's brain a lot since then."
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The Blues' projected lineup (Berube will update at 5:30):
Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-Vladimir Tarasenko
Zach Sanford-Ryan O'Reilly-David Perron
Robby Fabbri-Robert Thomas-Pat Maroon
Sammy Blais-Ivan Barbashev-Oskar Sundqvist
Carl Gunnarsson-Alex Pietrangelo
Jay Bouwmeester-Colton Parayko
Joel Edmundson-Robert Bortuzzo
Jake Allen is the projected starter in goal; Jordan Binnington would be the projected backup.
The healthy scratch will be Vince Dunn; Tyler Bozak (upper body) and Alexander Steen (upper body) are out.
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The Stars' projected lineup:
Jamie Benn-Tyler Seguin-Alexander Radulov
Valeri Nichushkin-Radek Faksa-Tyler Pitlick
Devin Shore-Jason Spezza-Erik Condra
Matias Janmark-Roope Hintz-Blake Comeau
Esa Lindell-John Klingberg
Miro Heiskanen-Roman Polak
Connor Carrick-Taylor Fedun
Ben Bishop will start in goal; Anton Khudobin will be the backup.
Healthy scratches include Brett Ritchie and Julius Honka. Martin Hanzal (back), Stephen Johns (upper body), Marc Methot (lower body) and Jason Dickinson (upper body) are all out.