Battered Blues hanging tough, welcome Canadiens

NHL Hockey

The St. Louis Blues will attempt to extend their home-ice dominance when they host the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.

The Blues scored 29 goals while winning their past six games at Enterprise Center. Overall they are 9-3-1 at home this season.

The reeling Canadiens come to town with a five-game losing streak. They scored just seven goals during that span, and they suffered their third shutout of the season, 2-0 to the Chicago Blackhawks, on Thursday.

The Blues have been playing nine players down due to injuries and COVID-19 protocols. They played their past two games with just 17 skaters due to those issues, plus their salary cap constraints.

Despite that, they gained points in six of their last seven games overall (4-1-2) with help from AHL replacements such as Charlie Lindgren, who has taken over as the lead goaltender.

“I think a lot of the nerves that I get is more so before the puck drops, and then once that puck drops, you really just want to go out and play and feel the puck,” Lindgren said after the Blues defeated the Detroit Red Wings 6-2 on Thursday night.

“And I thought Detroit, they were trying to put a lot of pucks to the net early and that always kind of helps just trying to get a rhythm. And I think our team scoring a couple goals early, that always helps to kind of settle me in and we end up potting six. So, really, really good team effort tonight.”

Nathan Walker scored a hat trick in that game while fellow AHL call-ups Dakota Joshua (two assists), Logan Brown and Scott Perunovich also played key roles.

“I think it’s awesome,” Lindgren said. “We’re having a really good year down there (Springfield of the AHL), really good start, everyone’s contributing. It’s fun to see us five up here right now. We’re pushing each other. We’re trying to make every day count. And it’s a great group of guys, I think, the leaders on this team, they welcomed us in, and they’ve done such a good job with us. I think a lot of credit goes to the dressing room as a whole as well.”

The undermanned Canadiens are also dealing with injuries to several key players, but they have tightened up their defensive play in their past two losses.

They played the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning tough in a 3-2 loss Tuesday.

“Sometimes in these stretches when you’re not winning, you’re not getting any points on the board for the standings, it’s hard to see positives,” Canadiens forward Jonathan Drouin said. “But I think the last two games there’s some positives there that we can keep for the next day when you get to practice and watch video.

“Even if we’re missing players, there is something to build on. The effort and attitude are there.”

Of the injured Canadiens, defensemen Jeff Petry and forward Joel Armia are the closest to returning. The team has listed both as day to day.

For the Blues, forward David Perron (upper body) has resumed skating with the team and forward Tyler Bozak is nearing his return from COVID-19 protocols.

–Field Level Media

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