When their seasons resume Tuesday night in Arizona, the Blues will seek a season high-tying fourth straight win, while Phoenix will continue its drive toward its first playoff berth since 2001-02.
With a three-game winning streak, the Blues (28-25-9) entered the Olympic break within five points of Detroit for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. St. Louis won a season-high four in a row Jan. 9-16.
The Blues will try to match that run as they open a season-high six-game road trip against a Coyotes team that is 22-9-2 on home ice, and has already beaten St. Louis twice in 2009-10, 3-2 in Arizona on Oct. 15 and 2-0 at St. Louis two weeks later. Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov(notes), who played for Russia at the Olympics, was in net for both Phoenix victories as well as a 3-2 overtime loss to the Blues on Nov. 19.
St. Louis defenseman Erik Johnson(notes), who won that contest by scoring with 17 seconds left in overtime, has two goals and two assists in his last four games overall. He and winger David Backes(notes) may rejoin the Blues with some extra confidence after winning silver medals with Team USA in Vancouver.
St. Louis won’t have the services of former U.S. Olympian Keith Tkachuk(notes), who is expected to be sidelined until March 11 after undergoing surgery on his left pinkie on Friday. The Blues will also be without enforcer Cam Janssen(notes), serving a five-game suspension for a hit to Washington’s Matt Bradley(notes) last month.
“It’s unfortunate,” president John Davidson told the team’s official Web site. “(Janssen) plays hard and the timing was late.”
Despite losing their last two games, the Coyotes (37-21-5) entered the Olympic break fourth in the West, have already matched their point total (79) from all of last season, and are six wins shy of the franchise record set by the 1984-85 Winnipeg Jets.
“We played hard to get ourselves in a playoff position before the break,” coach Dave Tippett told the Coyotes’ official Web site. “Now this last push is very important for us. We have to continue to play well.”
Phoenix could stand to improve on the power play. The Coyotes rank 29th in the league with the man advantage and haven’t scored in their last 19 opportunities.
“We’ve had some great chances,” Tippett said. “In the end, the only way a power play can be successful is if you score.”
Tippett’s club is at home for its first four games out of the break, then plays 11 of its final 15 on the road.