Senators-Blues Preview

The Associated Press

The St. Louis Blues haven't had much trouble with Eastern Conference teams this season, and on home ice, such opponents are yet to leave town with a point.

With the Ottawa Senators coming to the Scottrade Center Tuesday night, the Blues will be looking to improve to 10-0-0 at home this season against teams from the East. The previous nine wins were all decided in regulation and came by a combined score of 43-13.

Overall, the Blues (37-12-5) have won four of five after edging visiting Nashville 4-3 in a shootout on Saturday. David Backes and Jaden Schwartz gave the Blues a 2-0 lead in the second period while Vladimir Tarasenko had a goal, an assist and the shootout winner.

The second-year winger is third on the team with 18 goals behind veterans Alexander Steen (27) and Backes (19).

"I feel like he gets better every game," linemate Derek Roy said. "He's eager to learn. He wants to play well and he wants to win. Those are good qualities in a player."

So is Tarasenko's shot, according to his coach.

"The last guy I seen shoot pucks like that is (Mark) Recchi," coach Ken Hitchcock told the team's official website. "Mark has the same thing where he squares up the blade, the goalie can't see whether it's going left, right or high. When your blade's that square, you can't read off it. ... Pure shooters can only do that. There's not many pure shooters, but he's one of them."

Brian Elliott made 28 saves and won for the first time in four games, but Jaroslav Halak is expected to start against the Senators. The Blues' No. 1 goaltender hasn't faced Ottawa since joining St. Louis in 2010-11, but he's been strong lately with a 3-1-0 record, 1.48 goals-against average and .952 save percentage since Jan. 23.

St. Louis is 17-4-1 against the East while Ottawa (24-21-11) is 5-9-4 against the West. One of those wins, however, came against the Blues - a 3-2 overtime victory in Ottawa on Dec. 16.

Senators leading goal-scorer Bobby Ryan had a goal and an assist in that game to give him eight points in his last five games against St. Louis dating back to his last two seasons with Anaheim.

The Senators are winless in their first two games of a three-game road stretch after Monday's 2-1 overtime loss at Pittsburgh. It could have been worse, but Craig Anderson made 46 saves to help the Senators to a point.

Stephane Da Costa scored his third goal in 10 games this season with all of them coming in the last three.

After Saturday's 6-3 loss at Toronto, Ottawa coach Paul MacLean saw improvement.

"We had a lot of guys that played real well," MacLean told the team's official website. "I thought our competition level was good, and when you get to overtime against this team, things can go wrong in a hurry and they did."

Backup Robin Lehner started the first game against the Blues this year and made 30 saves, but he's 1-3-0 with a 4.09 GAA and .879 save percentage in four starts since.

Blues center Vladimir Sobotka landed on injured reserve before Saturday's game and will miss at least four weeks with a left leg injury.

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