I made fun of Jimmy Howard, then I woke up at 3 AM with the flu. The hockey gods put me in my place.
BLUES (33-10-5) at DEVILS (20-19-11)
TV: FS-MW, MSG PLUS
Last 10: St. Louis 7-3-0; New Jersey 4-3-3
Season series: This is the first meeting since Feb. 9, 2012, when the St. Louis Blues scored a 4-3 shootout victory against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center. The teams will play their final game this season Jan. 28 in St. Louis.
Big story: The Blues opened their four-game road trip Monday with a 4-1 victory against the Detroit Red Wings to snap a two-game losing streak. The four-goal outburst was the team's highest total in five games (2-3-0). Following Tuesday's game against the Devils, the Blues travel to Madison Square Garden to play the New York Rangers on Thursday and Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum for a matinee against the New York Islanders on Saturday. The Blues are 14-2-1 against Eastern Conference teams in 2013-14.
Blues: A severe case of the flu sidelined forward Vladimir Tarasenko on Monday, marking the first game Tarasenko (15 goals, 14 assists) missed this season. Alexander Steen, who returned to the lineup Saturday after missing 11 games with a concussion, had two assists in the victory against Detroit to boost his season totals to 24 goals and 16 assists, and goalie Jaroslav Halak made 22 saves to earn his 20th victory.
"The first two periods we played the way we had to play," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "I thought the scoring chances might've been even in the first two periods, but the zone time was in our favor and that's our game. Our game plan was more based on volume and zone time and wearing people out, and that's what we accomplished in the first two periods."
Devils: The Devils return home after closing out a four-game road trip with one win and four points (1-1-2). The team had its six-game point streak snapped Saturday in a 3-2 loss against the Phoenix Coyotes. Coach Peter DeBoer told The (Bergen) Record that there's a good chance right wing Damien Brunner could return to the lineup after missing the past 14 games with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee. The 27-year-old Brunner returned to practice Monday for the first time since being injured on a knee-on-knee hit from Anaheim Ducks defenseman Mark Fistric on Dec. 20.
"He's worked his [rear end] off to do that, he really has," DeBoer said of Brunner. "The reports from the rehab people here have been this guy has worked as hard as anyone has worked here to get back, which is a great sign."
Brunner had four goals and five points in the five games before sustaining his injury.
"For me, I'm practicing with the team now, I feel 100 percent and I'm ready to go," Brunner said.
Who's hot: Devils center Adam Henrique has six goals and 10 points over the past 12 games. … Blues right wing T.J. Oshie has at least a point in three of the past four games (three goals, one assist).
Injury report: Tarasenko (flu) is day-to-day and forward Maxim Lapierre (lower body) is on injured reserve. … Brunner (knee) is probable and defenseman Peter Harrold (foot) is day-to-day.
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