After snapping their longest losing streak in more than a year, the St. Louis Blues hope to build new momentum when they host the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night.
"You gotta change the wind in your sails somehow," Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington noted to reporters after a 4-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night. The Blues had suffered three straight regulation losses entering that game.
"However it is, just competing in practice, doing the right thing," Binnington said. "And hopefully it'll come around, right? You can't go too far out of your way. Just stick to your game plan and believe in yourself and eventually it'll come around."
The Blackhawks have lost three games in a row and six of their last eight. They are coming off a 5-2 road loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday.
Injuries on the blue line have taken a toll. Cornerstone defenseman Duncan Keith has been out since Nov. 29 with a groin injury and steady defenseman Calvin de Haan went on injured reserve this week with a long-term right shoulder injury.
On the plus side, defenseman Olli Maatta returned to active duty after missing four games with flu-like symptoms.
"It's tough to see Cal go down," Maatta said about de Haan. "We've been without Duncan for a little bit but the other guys have to step up. It's not a one-man job, everybody has to play those minutes."
With Keith on the shelf, the Blackhawks have struggled in their own zone -- making big mistakes that lead to great scoring chances against them. They have allowed 13 goals in their last three games.
"We have to give ourselves a chance to be in a game," goaltender Robin Lehner said after the Coyotes loss. "What we've given up, we just give it. It's very easy chances. We have to work really hard for ours, and not the other team. It's not a good combination."
The Blues won the previous game between these Central Division rivals, 4-0, on Dec. 2 in Chicago. Jake Allen recorded a 38-save shutout and Brayden Schenn, Jaden Schwartz, Tyler Bozak and Mackenzie MacEachern scored the goals.
The Blues got forward Oskar Sundqvist back from his lower-body injury Thursday night and he contributed immediately with a goal and an assist. Despite playing on the fourth line, Sundqvist created several scoring chances while setting the tempo for that victory.
"He just plays an aggressive game and he attacks," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "That's his game. That's what he does. He doesn't quit. He wills his way to everywhere on the ice. He wills his way through traffic. He wills his way to the net. He just wills goals in. That's what he does."
The Blues are getting forward Alexander Steen back from injured reserve for this game at Enterprise Center. He has been sidelined since Nov. 6 with a high ankle sprain. Austin Poganski returned to San Antonio of the AHL to make roster room for him.
Forward Zach Sanford is questionable for the game with an upper-body injury and forwards Sammy Blais (wrist surgery) and Vladimir Tarasenko (shoulder surgery) are sidelined with long-term injuries.
--Field Level Media