Bruins in way of Blues' successful road swing
Grinding out points in away games is a necessity for the St. Louis Blues as they try to gain ground in the Western Conference playoff race, and they'll try to end a road trip on a high note when they visit the Boston Bruins on Thursday.
The Blues are 2-0-1 with one game to go, having beaten Dallas 3-1 on Saturday and Washington 4-1 on Monday. The next night, they lost to the Islanders 2-1 in overtime.
Despite the loss, captain Alex Pietrangelo felt his team did well to salvage a point in a tough environment.
"Those are the ones that we've just got to get points right now. ... Being a road team there, back to back (games), it's a good point," Pietrangelo said. "It's not easy to climb back after you've played the night before, but we've got a good atmosphere in the room right now. We're finding ways to get those points."
A 4-1-1 record in their last six games has lifted the Blues to five points out of third place in the Central Division, and four points out of a Western Conference wild card position.
The Bruins are 6-1-1 in the second game of back-to-backs this season. They'll need another quick turnaround in the wake of a 4-3 loss to Flyers in Philadelphia on Wednesday.
Boston lost despite a 42-19 shot advantage over the Flyers, and a 2-0 lead less than 10 minutes into the game.
Playing in his first game of the season, Bruins winger Peter Cehlarik scored twice against Philadelphia. Cehlarik was called up from the Bruins' AHL affiliate and took the place of veteran David Backes, who was a healthy scratch for the first time in over a decade.
Some line-shuffling could be in order for Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, who hinted before the Flyers game that Backes would be back in action against St. Louis. Backes has just 12 points in 38 games this season, and Cassidy said he simply felt a change was required to generate more offense.
Backes is "a real good soldier, a good player for a long time in this league. But honesty I still believe is the best policy," Cassidy said. "We usually judge our lineup on performance first ... and in this particular case, we're looking for a player to go up on that second line and find some consistency, so we're giving another player a chance."
Since Jaroslav Halak got the start on Wednesday, the Bruins will turn to Tuukka Rask in net against St. Louis. Rask is 5-0-1 over his last six starts, with a .943 save percentage and 1.65 GAA in that stretch.
The Blues are likely to again start rookie goalie Jordan Binnington, whose strong play has been a big factor in the team's recent success. Binnington has yet to suffer a regulation loss in four starts this season, and is coming off a 23-save performance against the Islanders.
St. Louis forward David Perron has six goals and nine assists over a career-long 12-game point streak.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 17, 2019