Bruins-Blues Preview

The Associated Press

For a Boston Bruins team that has struggled to score goals and win games throughout February, a trip to St. Louis doesn't seem like the best elixir.

The Blues, meanwhile, are trying to take full advantage of home ice before heading out on a difficult road stretch.

St. Louis looks to extend its remarkable run of success at Scottrade Center on Wednesday night and send the sputtering Bruins to their first three-game losing streak since October.

Multiple trends will need to change for Boston (35-20-2) to avoid that fate.

For one, the Bruins have four shutout defeats while going 3-6-0 this month, a particularly troubling fact considering the Blues have blanked 10 visitors to St. Louis this season.

The Blues (36-16-7) haven't lost in regulation at home since Dec. 3, going 18-0-3 in that stretch - 5-0-0 with three shutouts since the All-Star break.

"If we go into that game with the same kind of weight we have on our shoulders lately, it might be a tough night," Boston coach Claude Julien told his team's official website. "Somehow we got to take that weight off our shoulders and just go out and play and give it all you got, and you might be surprised at what you can come out with.

"Sometimes a good opponent and going out there with that attitude can make a lot of things happen so that's what you have to hope for."

The Bruins put a season-high 48 shots on goal Sunday at Minnesota but lost 2-0.

Earlier that day, St. Louis allowed three unanswered goals in the third period of a 3-1 loss at Chicago.

Coach Ken Hitchcock's team will have plenty of chances to correct its inconsistency on the road in the next few weeks, with six in a row and 13 of 16 away from home after Wednesday. First, however, the club would love to pick up two more points in St. Louis as it continues to chase Detroit in the standings.

"We've got a strong team here, but there's been times where we've let it slide for whatever reason," said Andy McDonald, who has scored in three straight games. "You watch the way Detroit plays, it's the same through three periods. They don't stray too much from their game. We have to find the kind of effort where we're not having a dropoff."

There has been little dropoff in the Blues' outstanding defensive statistics, thanks in part to two goalies - Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak - among the top four in the league in goals-against average. Halak, who has four shutouts in his last five home starts, might be back after a bout with the flu.

Boston also has two netminders among the NHL's top eight in GAA, but neither has been at his best lately. Tuukka Rask has allowed 17 goals while losing five straight starts, and Tim Thomas has a pedestrian .882 save percentage in his last five outings after setting a single-season league record (.938) in that category last season.

Both teams are depleted up front, with the Bruins struggling to replace injured forwards Rich Peverley and Nathan Horton. Already without Alex Steen and Matt D'Agostini, the Blues lost veteran Jamie Langenbrunner for at least four weeks Sunday with a broken foot.

Boston has only three victories in the last 19 meetings but has won its last two visits to St. Louis.

The Bruins' lead over Ottawa in the Northeast Division has slipped to two points and could disappear Wednesday, but they still have four games in hand on the Senators.

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