St. Louis looks to shore up its defense as it searches for its first win of the season in a matchup with the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Blues couldn’t afford to keep Pronger due to the NHL’s new salary cap, so they dealt their top defenseman, a former league MVP, to Edmonton in early August.
MacInnis, who won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman in 1999 and led defensemen in scoring in 2002-03 with 68 points, retired Sept. 9 after a 23-year career.
With the duo gone, St. Louis has allowed a Western Conference-high 16 goals in dropping its first three games this season. The Blues blew a 5-3 lead after two periods Saturday and lost 7-6 to the San Jose Sharks.
“When you’re up 5-3 going into the third period, you expect to win,” said Blues forward Jamal Mayers, who had two goals. “They won because they worked harder than we did. It’s as simple as that.”
Mayers put St. Louis ahead 6-5 at 7:09 of the third period, but San Jose tied it nearly six minutes later before getting the game-winner with 1:54 remaining.
“We’re not going to sit around and feel sorry for ourselves,” Mayers said. “I believe in all the guys in this room, and we have the people to turn it around.”
Chicago fell for the second time in its first three games, losing 3-2 to Columbus on Sunday.
Blackhawks rookie Pavel Vorobiev scored twice for the second straight game and Nikolai Khabibulin made 24 saves, though he acknowledged he’s not yet in the form he showed in leading the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Stanley Cup in 2004.
“Of the three games I’ve played so far, I thought I felt the best tonight,” Khabibulin said. “Obviously, I’m not close to where I want to be.”
STANDINGS (through Oct. 9): Blackhawks - 2 points, 3rd place (tied), 4 PB, Central Division. Blues - 0 points, 5th place, 6 PB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Blackhawks - Vorobiev, 4 goals; Brent Seabrook, 5 assists; Vorobiev, Seabrook and Tyler Arnason, 5 points; Matthew Barnaby, 11 PIM. Blues - Mayers, 2 goals; Petr Cajanek, 4 assists and 5 points; Andy Roach, 8 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Oct. 9): Blackhawks - Power play: 20.8 percent (5 for 24), 11th in NHL. Penalty killing: 76.1 percent (16 for 21), 24th. Blues - Power play: 20.0 percent (5 for 25), 13th. Penalty killing: 77.7 percent (14 for 18), 22nd.
2003-04 SEASON SERIES: 3-3.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blackhawks - 0-0-0 on the road; Blues - 0-2-0 at home.