NHL Hockey

2
Final 1 2 3 Tot
St. Louis 2 0 0 2
NY Rangers 0 2 2 4
4
4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET23:00 GMT7:00 4:00 PM MST6:00 PM EST3:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ET20:00 BRT, March 29, 2019
Madison Square Garden, New York, New York  Attendance: 17,567

Blues seeking to go far after facing Rangers

St. Louis Blues at New York Rangers

  1. The Blues have won five of their last six games with their only loss coming in a shootout. They are 19-5-3 since the All-Star break, third-best record in the NHL behind the Lightning (22-4-2) and Bruins (20-4-4).
  2. The Rangers have lost 12 of 14 dating back to February 27, averaging just 2.00 goals per game in that span, second lowest in hockey ahead of the Devils (1.79). They lost to the Bruins on Wednesday, 6-3, their fifth loss by at least three goals this month, tied for second most in the NHL (Devils -- six).
  3. The Blues have won three of the last five games against the Rangers, scoring 10 goals in the three wins but just one goal in the two losses. The Rangers won the last matchup on New Year's Eve, 2-1.
  4. Zach Sanford scored a goal and picked up an assist against Vegas, his sixth point in his last six games. He had tallied six points in his previous 33 games combined dating back to November 24.
  5. Mika Zibanejad netted two goals against the Bruins, both on the power play, and now has a career-high 30 goals on the season. He has scored 18 goals since January 15, tied for second most in the league behind only Edmonton's Leon Draisaitl (23).
  6. Chris Kreider has just two points in March after scoring at least seven points in each of the first five months of the season. Kreider has racked up 12 points (4g, 8a) in 10 skates against St. Louis in his career.

What seemed unlikely prior to Thanksgiving can become reality Friday night for the St. Louis Blues. But the Blues are looking to do more than just simply qualify for the NHL playoffs.

The Blues will look to take the first step toward raising the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history when they visit the New York Rangers on Friday night.

The Blues haven't played since Monday, when they extended their winning streak to four games by beating the visiting Vegas Golden Knights 3-1. The Rangers were off Thursday after suffering their seventh loss in eight games Wednesday, falling to the host Boston Bruins 6-3.

With a win or an overtime loss Friday, the Blues (41-27-8) will clinch a playoff spot for the 42nd time in the franchise's 52-year history and end their one-year sabbatical from the postseason. That absence looked like it could extend to two years when head coach Mike Yeo was fired Nov. 19 following a 7-9-3 start.

But Craig Berube has steered the Blues to a 34-18-5 record and into a position where enjoying home ice for the first round -- or longer -- is still a reasonable goal. St. Louis hasn't reached the Stanley Cup since losing in the finals for the third straight time in 1970.

The Blues will enter Friday two points behind the second-place Nashville Predators in the Central Division with a game in hand. The Winnipeg Jets entered Thursday's game against the New York Islanders with a four-point lead over St. Louis.

"It's nice to know you're in," Blues defenseman Colton Parayko told reporters following practice Wednesday. "But at the same time, I think we're a group in here that wants to keep climbing in the standings and continue to peak at the right time.

"You want to build your game up at this time and be ready for the playoffs now. Hopefully, we continue to build our game and keep climbing in the standings and gain some home ice and, if not, just be ready for the first round, for sure."

The climb ended long ago for the Rangers (29-34-13), who are in the second year of a rebuilding project. New York hasn't won consecutive games since it headed into the All-Star break on a three-game winning streak.

The Rangers are just 8-14-6 since the All-Star Game and have fallen on especially hard times lately. Of New York's last six losses, five have been by at least three goals.

The defeat Wednesday embodied the issues facing the youthful Rangers, who trailed the Bruins 3-2 more than midway through the third period before allowing Boston to score three power play goals in a span of a little more than four minutes. The final two goals were scored during a five-on-three opportunity generated when New York was whistled for having too many men on the ice 31 seconds before defenseman Brendan Smith was sent to the penalty box for high sticking.

"It's hard enough to win in this league when you don't beat yourself," Rangers head coach David Quinn told reporters afterward. "We did a lot of good things early, having around against a really good hockey team, and then just imploded."

--Field Level Media

Updated March 28, 2019

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