The St. Louis Blues will look to keep going as they play Wednesday night in Buffalo against the Sabers before heading to Florida to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday and the Florida Panthers on Saturday.
With a two-game sweep of Anaheim, the Blues became the first team in NHL history to go on an eight-game losing streak with a seven-game losing streak.
“A win heals everything,” Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly said after Tuesday’s practice in Maryland Heights. “We have that faith again in our group, and it’s exciting; it’s fun to come to the rink.”
The Blues’ recent raise was a complete team effort. During the winning streak, the team was without a number of players, including striker Vladimir Tarasenko, defender Colton Parayko, Robert Portuzzo and Tore Krug.
Krug, who has scored four goals and four assists this season, scored a power play goal in the win over Anaheim on Saturday but left the ice during training on Monday with an upper body injury. He did not train Tuesday.
People also read…
“We thought he’d better stay out again today and then get a skate tomorrow and see how he feels,” said Blues coach Craig Berup.
Parayko, who returned Monday after missing two games with an upper body injury, put in a solid effort against the Sharks. He and forward Pavel Bukhnevich did not skate on Tuesday.
“I think Parayko is fine,” said Birobi, adding that Bukhnević “will be fine, too.”
Tarasenko, fourth in the lineup with 13 points (4G, 9A), returned to practice on Tuesday after missing both games against San Jose due to illness.
“He exercised, and he felt fine today,” Berube said. “I suppose he’s ready.”
The coach also expects the return of Portoso (lower body) soon. The veteran linebacker was training.
“I think he feels good, the way he moves there,” the coach said.
Noel Acciari opens and closes
Blues forward Noel Acciaari continued his strong performance by scoring two goals in Monday’s win over Anaheim. He has five goals and three assists this season.
Aciari scored 11 seconds into the game when he converted a goal to steal Brayden Sheen, then sealed the win with just 19 seconds left to play.
“We’re starting to get a bit of a bounce, and I think some players’ confidence is starting to come back from that eight-game slip,” said Aciari.
Aciari, 30, previously played for the Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers. He scored 20 goals with Florida in 2019-20 and played for the Bruins in 2019 when they finished runner-up in the Stanley Cup to the Blues.
“He brings everyone into the fight,” Berube said of Akyari, who recently joined forces with Shin and Ivan Barbashev. “Whichever line he plays on, it’s a tough line, a good identity line for us. Three physical guys and they create chances and score goals.”
Buffalo swords revealed
The Sabers, who played Tuesday night in Montreal against the Canadiens to end a streak of three straight road contests, entered that game with a 7-11 record and an eight-game winning streak.
Buffalo’s offense has been defined by former Blues player Tyg Thompson (12 goals, 10 assists), who went to the Sabers as part of the Ryan O’Reilly deal in the summer of 2018. Thompson, who scored 38 goals and 68 points last year. In the offseason, she signed a seven-year, $50 million contract extension with Buffalo.
Buffalo’s other top scorers this season include Rasmus Dahlin (7 goals, 13 assists), the #1 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, and Alex Toch, (9 goals, 7 assists). In goal, Buffalo has Craig Anderson (3-3, 2.82 goals against, .910 save percentage) and Eric Comrie (4-7, 3.62, 0.887).
“There are no easy games in this league,” Berubi said when asked about the Sabers. “I don’t care who you play, if you’re not ready to play from the start, you’re putting yourself in a bad position. Last night, the first period, we were outplayed (and kept Jordan Pennington) in it and we turned the tables after that.”
Wednesday’s game will feature a third black and red jersey for the first time.