After losing starting goalies in consecutive games this past weekend, the biggest goal for the St. Louis Blues might be to keep their starter healthy through Thursday’s game against the visiting Carolina Hurricanes.
Prior to Friday’s game with Los Angeles, Manny Legace slipped on the carpet intended for Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who dropped the ceremonial first puck.
He played the first period and allowed two goals on 12 shots before leaving with a hip flexor injury. Legace is still listed as day-to-day and could return this weekend. Coming off an All-Star selection last season, Legace was 4-2-0 with a 2.94 goals-against average to begin this season.
Legace’s backup, Ben Bishop, left the third period of Saturday’s game against Florida with an undisclosed lower body injury.
At the time, the St. Louis native was working on his first shutout in his first career start after stopping all 12 shots in a little more than 44 minutes. Marek Schwarz, who was recalled from the Blues’ AHL affiliate in Peoria before the game to replace Legace, played the final 16 minutes and stopped all five shots he faced in a 4-0 win that snapped a two-game losing streak for St. Louis.
“It didn’t really want to come off the ice like that,” Bishop said. “It was just precautionary. I felt good out there, and the team was playing great. It was not the way you want to start.”
The Blues (5-3-0) had also lost regular backup Chris Mason to an appendectomy a week earlier. Mason returned to the ice for a Sunday workout, practiced Monday and could start Thursday. Mason has faced the Hurricanes once, making 31 saves in a 1-0 victory last season while with Nashville.
St. Louis scored at least two power-play goals for the fifth time this season and is among the NHL’s top teams with the man advantage, converting 34.2 percent of its chances.
Keith Tkachuk scored his team-leading eighth goal on a power play, and Brad Boyes got the first of his two goals on a first-period advantage. Boyes has seven goals and 11 points, one behind team co-leaders Paul Kariya and Andy McDonald.
While the Blues are 3-2-0 on a season-high seven-game homestand, Carolina will end a six-game road trip, its longest of the season.
The Hurricanes (4-2-2) have gone 2-1-2 on the trip, including a 3-2 shootout loss Tuesday to Montreal. Matt Cullen scored the tying goal 40 seconds into the third period for Carolina, which failed to get any of its three shootout attempts past Carey Price.
“I thought we did a good job and that’s what’s frustrating about the shootout. Now everybody’s saddled with a loss, and it’s like you buried your dead cat in the locker room - nobody’s talking,” Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette said.
In last season’s only meeting, Legace stopped 27 shots and Lee Stempniak scored the game’s only goal in a 1-0 win for St. Louis. The Hurricanes and Blues have played five times since 2001 with the Blues holding a 3-2 advantage.