St. Louis’ longest homestand of the season got off to a promising start, but more struggles on the offensive end have the Blues heading in the wrong direction once again.
The Blues look to avoid a third consecutive loss - and third straight to the Phoenix Coyotes - on Thursday night at the Scottrade Center.
Struggling to score all season, St. Louis (6-8-4) showed signs of life in a 6-1 win over Vancouver to open a six-game home stretch Nov. 10. The Blues, however, weren’t able to carry over any momentum with a pair of 3-1 losses to follow, including Saturday against San Jose.
“We’ve certainly have had trouble scoring. That’s been our Achilles’ from the beginning of the season,” said Blues coach Andy Murray, whose team has a league-low 41 goals. “We’re playing hard. We’re battling.”
St. Louis has scored two goals or fewer in 12 of 18 games overall and eight of 10 at home.
Brad Boyes(notes) and Jay McClement(notes) have scored the last two goals for the Blues, who have one victory in their last eight games (1-4-3) at home and are 3-7-1 overall at Scottrade.
St. Louis hasn’t received must production from some of its top scorers of late. Paul Kariya(notes) has gone 10 games without a point and Keith Tkachuk(notes) has gone seven.
“Our goal scorers are squeezing their sticks,” Murray said. “Pucks are laying there or they’re just going by the net or we’re not putting it in. Keep working, and the pucks that are not going in now will find a way to go in for us.”
Boyes, however, has two goals in his last three contests. He’s scoreless in both losses to Phoenix (12-9-0) this season.
After sweeping the four-game series from the Coyotes in 2008-09, the Blues are 0-1-1 against them this season. Ilya Bryzgalov(notes) made 32 saves to best Ty Conklin(notes) and the Blues 2-0 in the teams’ most recent meeting Oct. 29 in St. Louis.
St. Louis’ Chris Mason(notes), 4-6-3 with a 2.27 goals-against average this season, has started three straight games and is 5-2-2 with a 2.52 GAA against Phoenix. He could give way to Conklin, who’s 2-2-1 with a 2.24 GAA, but 0-2-1 in his last three starts. Conklin is 1-2-0 with a 3.01 GAA all-time versus the Coyotes.
Bryzgalov made 24 saves as the Coyotes won for the third time in eight games, 3-2 at Minnesota on Wednesday.
Though Bryzgalov is 11-6-0 with a 2.04 GAA overall, and 2-0-0 with a 0.97 GAA versus St. Louis this season, backup Jason LaBarbera(notes) could be in net for this back-to-back scenario.
LaBarbera is 1-3-0 with a 2.66 GAA this season and 2-2-0 with a 3.03 GAA against the Blues.
Radim Vrbata(notes) had a goal and an assist Wednesday, and Scottie Upshall(notes) broke a 2-2 tie with a late third-period goal for the Coyotes, who improved to 6-4-0 on the road.
“That’s a big one,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said of Upshall’s team-leading seventh goal. “They get some life and we can take it away from them in a hurry. That’s not a bad scenario you want to follow.”
Upshall has a goal in each of his last two games against St. Louis.
Though he’s close to returning, Phoenix defenseman Ed Jovanovski(notes) will miss his sixth straight game with a lower-body injury Thursday.