Thursday, February 21, 2019


Blues in search of perfect 12-pack; Dunn sorry Kadri injured, not for hit; Bozak 
bites ex mates; Husso makes appearance on ice; Fabbri's role limited again

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- The journey continues for the Blues into Dallas tonight looking to make it a 12-pack of victories and keep establishing a franchise record for most consecutive wins.

The Blues (32-22-5) set their record on Tuesday with a dramatic 3-2 overtime win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, another in a line of top-tiered teams the Blues had to take down to keep this streak alive.

But they want to continue to play good, smart hockey and distance themselves even more from the Stars (29-25-5), who hold the first wild card from the Western Conference and are six back of the Blues for third in the Central Division. The Blues trail Nashville by six for second in the division and seven behind Winnipeg for the division lead.

"We're not really looking at the scoreboard or scoreboard watching or looking ahead of us too much," center Tyler Bozak said. "We're just kind of worrying about ourselves right now. That's been working for us. We're just trying to go out there and giving our best every night. We compete and things have been going well, so hopefully things stay the same."

The Blues' shutout streak ended last night at 233 minutes 50 seconds, which is second in Blues history, but they will roll in with a whopping 493:42 consecutive streak for tied or leading in a game, which is remarkable. They haven't trailed since the third period of their Feb. 5 game at the Florida Panthers.

"We're winning games and put ourselves in a good spot," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "That's what's exciting for me. The guys battled back from where they were and we're in a good spot right now. But obviously you've got to keep going because there's a lot of hockey left. There's a lot of teams that are fighting for the same goal.

"Over this stretch, we have faced adversity at times. Guys have persevered and battled through it. I think the adversity they went through early on in the season, where we were, they got themselves out of that hole, so they're used to it."

Berube said both forward David Perron (upper body) and Carl Gunnarsson (upper body) will not be made available tonight. Gunnarsson skated Wednesday but Perron didn't. He's missed the past, and the Blues have skyrocketed to a 12-1-0 record.

* Dunn sorry Kadri hurt -- The it shook the groundwaves, but for Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri, it would mark the end of the night for him, and it came courtesy of a hard, clean check by Blues defenseman Vince Dunn, who was rightfully not penalized on the play in the first period.

"It's part of the game, I guess," Dunn said of Kadri, who played just 4:14 and seven shifts. "I'm not trying to target anyone out there. It's unfortunate that he got hurt. I don't wish that upon anyone, but it's just a part of the game.

"It's an emotional game. We knew we really wanted that win, for the franchise record, but we really need points right now. It was a hard-fought game right to the end and it was a good two points for us."

Dunn actually was involved in another collision in the second period, and this one knocked the stick of Toronto's Connor Brown out of his hands and into a lucky fan's hands.

"Someone actually just text me about that this morning," Dunn said with a grin. "I didn't even know he lost his stick. Yeah, kind of lucky for me. It was one less player out there without his stick.

"Being a defenseman, you need to be physical. You need to create room for yourself with and without the puck. If I can be more aggressive in those situations, I think I'll be more effective on the ice."

* Bozak bites buddies -- Bozak, who spent his entire nine-year career with the Maple Leafs before signing as an unrestricted free agent with the Blues last summer, had two assists to bite the hand that once fed him.

He set up Jaden Schwartz and Colton Parayko for goals in the first period for a 2-0 Blues lead before Toronto stormed back in the third to tie it on goals by Zack Hyman and Auston Matthews 31 seconds apart.

"Obviously a lot of friends over there, so it is still weird kind of playing them," Bozak said. "Definitely one you want to win, but to win both this year, it feels pretty good. Obviously there was a little more on the line for us as a team. Obviously a big win for us, and they're a very good hockey team. For us to get that record against a team like that gives us a lot of confidence and makes us feel pretty good. 

"I went to dinner with a handful of them. Always nice to catch up. I played seven, eight years with a lot of those guys there. Good friends that I grew up with and have a lot of memories with and still keep in touch with. They're a team I cheer for when they're not playing us and hope they do well. I'm happy they're having a good season and they have a lot of great players over there. But it's always good to beat them."

Bozak's line with Schwartz and Alexander Steen was as good a game as it's had since Berube grouped it together, and the challenge was to defend the Matthews line with Patrick Marleau and Kasperi Kapanen.

"I really liked their game last night. I thought they had a good game," Berube said. "They were all working and competing for each other out there and scored a big goal, and they were going against a very good line, so they did a good job.

"... Teams have individuals, they're all looking for accomplishments themselves, right? That's normal, and you should be, but at the same time, everybody's got to be on the same page in the locker room and when you go on the ice and you play, and that is winning a hockey game. That comes first."

Nonetheless, Bozak said it's been a pleasure playing with Steen and Schwartz, who has goals in three of the past five games after going goalless in 22 straight.

"Playing with a guy like that is a ton of fun, him and Steener," Bozak said. "Both work extremely hard. Steener obviously has a ton of experience and plays so well on both ends of the ice, great on the forecheck and then obviously Schwartzy with all the skill he has, just trying to get the puck to him as much as you can. I know he hasn't scored as much as everyone expected this year, but now that he's got a few, the goals are just going to keep coming for him."

* Husso makes surprise appearance -- When the Blues took the ice for a scheduled optional Wednesday before boarding a flight for Texas, they had two goalies on the ice.

One would obviously be Jake Allen, but the second wasn't a local product called in to lend a helping hand, it was Ville Husso, the Blues' fourth round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.

Husso, who's spent the season with San Antonio of the American Hockey League, came to St. Louis while the Rampage were on a road trip through the Midwest to see Blues doctors and head athletic trainer Ray Barile for an ankle injury that has limited Husso to 20 games in the AHL this season.

"It's been a long two months with the injury and I feel like I am almost back now," Husso said, who's in St. Louis for "just a couple days, I came Sunday here. The Rampage are on the road, so I came to see Ray just to get some little things going. ... Now I'm close. Two weeks ago there was a little accident again, so it was a little setback, but everything's pretty good."

It's been a frustrating two months for Husso, who 3.33 goals-against average and .895 save percentage in the AHL this season. Fellow farmhand Jordan Binnington has passed Husso on the depth chart and is tearing it up for the Blues with a 13-1-1 record.

"Sometimes you're happy and sometimes you're like, 'I just want to play.' You just need to focus every day and working hard," Husso said. "Kind of like enjoy how the team is going, how the team is doing and just be a part of the team. I try to be happy every day, so that is the biggest thing.

"I feel like I'm getting back soon, so every day is a good opportunity."

If all goes well, Husso will meet up with the Rampage this weekend for games against Ontario and San Diego.

* Fabbri's role limited again -- It' been a tough time for Blues forward and 2014 first-round pick Robby Fabbri.

Fabbri was relegated to the press box for 10 games before playing in Arizona and Minnesota with Steen out for the birth of his child.

"It's tough obviously with Fabs," Berube said. "Going back with the injuries, he's missed a lot of hockey. It's not easy for him, but his attitude's been really good. We're all there for him. He'll get back in.

"I thought he was OK. I'm sure he has hesitation in his game from being out for so long. It's hard and right now, the game is fast and everybody's battling and fighting for playoff position or to get into the playoffs. There could be some hesitation there, for sure, but I thought he did OK."

Fabbri, coming off two serious knee operations that required attention, has played in 25 games this season.

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