Though injuries to key contributors have plagued St. Louis, the Blues are still not giving up hope on their season.
One day after one of their injured players suffered a setback, the Blues look to win two in a row for the first time in three weeks when they conclude the season series with the visiting Anaheim Ducks on Sunday.
A few hours prior to a 3-2 shootout victory at home over Western Conference leader San Jose on Saturday, St. Louis (14-18-3) learned Paul Kariya will have surgery on his left hip that could force him to miss the rest of the season.
Already without defenseman Erik Johnson (knee) for the season, former Duck Andy McDonald (ankle) since Nov. 16 and Eric Brewers (back) since Dec. 11, the Blues continue to try and overcome the loss of Kariya, who was injured in a 5-2 loss at Anaheim on Nov. 5. The 34-year-old former Ducks star has two goals and 13 assists in 11 games during his second season of a three-year, $18 million deal.
“We’re getting used to this,” said team president John Davidson of the Blues, last in the West with 31 points. “We deal with what we have to deal with. We have to play with purpose and intelligence, and we’ll compete, that’s what the mandate is.
“We’ve had some clunkers lately but we’ve played hard most nights and if we play smart we’ll stay in games.”
The Blues did against San Jose for their second win in nine games.
Brad Winchester had a goal and scored the deciding tally in the shootout as St. Louis improved to 9-7-2 at home. Winchester has all five of his goals in his last seven games.
“I don’t know if Brad Winchester’s concerned whether Paul Kariya is in the lineup or not,” said Blues coach Andy Murray, whose team hasn’t won two in a row since Dec. 6-8. “I don’t think it’s really been a theme around the room.”
Manny Legace made 24 saves to improve to 10-7-1 and could be in net for his second back-to-back scenario of the season. He is 11-2-1 with a tie and a 2.06 goals-against average versus Anaheim in his career and 1-0-0 with a 2.37 GAA versus the Ducks this season.
Anaheim is 2-0-1 versus St. Louis this season, winning the most recent contest 4-2 at home on Dec. 10. The Ducks (18-14-4), who fell 3-2 in overtime at St. Louis on Nov. 21 for their third straight loss at Scottrade Center, enter this game trying to avoid a fourth straight loss overall.
Anaheim fell 4-3 in overtime at Dallas on Saturday, losing by the same score in its third straight contest.
“These are tough ones to swallow,” said Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle, whose team is 1-2-1 on a five-game road trip. “You’ve got to be careful that these kinds of games don’t tear the heart out of your team.”
Morrison has four goals in his last two games, while Kunitz has three goals and two assists versus the Blues in 2008-09.
Though Giguere is 14-6-2 with a tie and a 2.25 GAA versus St. Louis, he could be rested in this back-to-back contest. Backup Jonas Hiller is 7-6-1 with a 2.21 GAA this season but made 30 saves in the early November win over the Blues.