St. Louis (20-8-1) at Columbus (9-19-3)

Fair Currently: Columbus, OH
Temp: 74° F
  • Game info: 7:00 pm EST Mon Dec 29, 2003
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The St. Louis Blues will try to end a four-game winless streak when they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.

St. Louis, four points behind Central Division-leading Detroit, is 0-2-2 over its last four, including a 3-3 tie with Colorado on Friday night.

The Blues received an emotional lift with the return of forwards Doug Weight and Keith Tkachuk on Friday as both had two assists.

It was a surprise start for Tkachuk, who missed the previous three games with an infection in his ankle. Weight returned to play after aggravating a groin injury Monday in Detroit and sitting out Tuesday’s game in Chicago.

“Of course, it was a lift for us,” said Eric Nickulas, who scored a late first-period goal on an assist from Weight. “How could it not be? Tkachuk gutted through with a great performance. No one knew he was going to play.”

However, the Blues allowed a late third-period goal to remain winless since a 4-2 victory over San Jose on Dec. 18.

“I thought we were flat and they came at us hard,” Blues coach Joel Quenneville said. “They were ready to go.”

Columbus has managed just one victory is its last 11 games, and its 25 points are the least in the Western Conference.

The Blue Jackets failed to follow up their first road win of the season on Friday, suffering a 4-3 loss to Dallas the following night.

Rick Nash scored his league-leading 23rd goal and Nikolai Zherdev and Lasse Pirjeta added goals for Columbus, which slipped to 1-9-1 in its last 11.

After trailing 3-1 after the first period, Columbus coach Doug MacLean pulled goaltender Fred Brathwaite in favor of Marc Denis.

“We battled back, but I’m getting sick and tired of pulling goaltenders,” MacLean said.

STANDINGS (through Dec. 27): Blues - 45 points, 2nd place, 4 PB, Central Division. Blue Jackets - 25 points, 5th place, 24 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Blues - Tkachuk, 16 goals; Weight, 22 assists; Pavol Demitra, 33 points; Mike Danton, 71 PIM. Blue Jackets - Nash, 23 goals and 27 points; Todd Marchant, 14 assists; Jody Shelley, 100 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 27): Blues - Power play: 20.8 percent (29 for 139), 6th in NHL. Penalty killing: 87.2 percent (20 for 157), 5th. Blue Jackets - Power play: 22.5 percent (32 for 143), 3rd. Penalty killing: 85.2 percent (22 for 149), 13th.

GOALTENDERS: Blues - Chris Osgood (17-7-3, 2 SO, 2.01 GAA); Brent Johnson (3-2-1, 1, 2.21). Blue Jackets - Denis (7-16-3, 2, 2.66); Brathwaite (2-6-1, 0, 2.93).

SEASON SERIES: Blues, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 16; Blues, 2-1, OT. At St. Louis, Tkachuk scored with 42.7 seconds left in the extra session, helping the Blues rally from a one-goal deficit for their second overtime win over Columbus in five days.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blues - 8-6-1-1 on the road; Blue Jackets - 8-8-3-1 at home.

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