The St. Louis Blues have some work to do to get into playoff contention but they’re heading in the right direction.
Until their most recent game, the same couldn’t be said for the Central Division-leading Detroit Red Wings.
After snapping a four-game skid in stunning style, the Red Wings will try to deny the host Blues a fourth straight victory Saturday night.
St. Louis’ hopes of making a second playoff appearance in five seasons took a serious blow during a recent 1-7-0 slump that lasted two weeks. The Blues (31-28-9) have bounced back from that stretch by scoring at least four goals in three consecutive games.
Andy McDonald(notes) had one of those scores and two assists in the most recent one, a 4-1 victory over Montreal on Thursday, and Jaroslav Halak(notes) stopped 27 shots against his former team. That win put St. Louis 10 points behind the Western Conference’s top eight clubs.
“It was a great team effort and a great team win,” Halak said. “Hopefully, we can keep growing.”
While the Blues have been growing, the Red Wings had seen their division lead shrink from 10 points to five during an 0-2-2 skid to open this month. Detroit (40-20-8) seemed headed for another loss as it trailed visiting Edmonton 1-0 in the final minute of regulation Friday.
Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom’s(notes) shot, however, bounced off the stick of the Oilers’ Andrew Cogliano(notes) and into the net with 24.8 seconds left. Pavel Datsyuk(notes) then gave his team a 2-1 victory by scoring with 42 seconds remaining in overtime.
“The last two weeks, it’s almost like we were one of the worst teams in the league,” forward Henrik Zetterberg(notes) said. “We’ve got to realize we’re a good team. When we have our chances, got to believe in ourselves and make plays instead of just panicking and stressing and doing the wrong plays.”
Detroit has made mostly the right plays in its matchups with St. Louis this season, prevailing in three of four.
After the Red Wings blew a 3-0 lead on Jan. 20, Darren Helm(notes) scored 1:51 into overtime to give the team a 4-3 victory at the Scottrade Center. The Red Wings’ attempt at a similar rally in that same building fell short Dec. 23.
Trailing 4-1 after 26 minutes, Detroit scored twice in the second period but couldn’t find the equalizer. Despite their recent success in the series, the Red Wings are 2-2-1 in their last five trips to St. Louis.
Zetterberg has six points in those games and a team-best eight this season against the Blues. He has 21 goals and 34 assists against St. Louis - his most in both categories against any opponent.
The trip to Scottrade Center, then, might be just what the Red Wings’ leading scorer needs to snap a season-worst, five-game point drought.