St. Louis Blues Welcome Montreal Canadiens to Town with Playoffs Still in Sight

Michael WagenknechtContributor IMarch 10, 2011

Blues defensemen Ian Cole tries to slip the puck past Matieu Garon
Blues defensemen Ian Cole tries to slip the puck past Matieu GaronGregory Shamus/Getty Images

The St. Louis Blues welcome one of the most storied franchises in NHL history to town tonight as they host the Montreal Canadiens.

The Blues are coming off of a home-and-home sweep of the Columbus Blue Jackets and have put themselves back on the edge of the playoff race.

The Canadiens, meanwhile, are riding a five-game winning streak and have leaped to the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference.

St. Louis overcame two-goal deficits in both games versus Columbus and used scoring spurts by Andy McDonald and Chris Stewart to tie and win both games.

On Monday night, McDonald put two pucks past Steve Mason to help the Blues get to overtime and a shootout. On Wednesday, it was Stewart who put in two pucks. The first tied the game early in the third period, while his second was a beautiful backhanded flip in overtime that beat Mathieu Garon for the winner.

Stewart is on a four-game point streak and has nine goals and three assists since arriving in St. Louis 11 games ago. McDonald has four points in his last four games and two goals and two assists in six career games against Montreal.

This game marks the first time that Jaroslav Halak will be facing the team he carried to the Eastern Conference Finals last season. Halak hasn’t had as great a season as expected and will only be in his second game back from a broken hand. This season, Halak is 20-17-6 with a 2.64 GAA and a .901 save percentage.

Carey Price, on the other hand, is having a solid season as the No. 1 goalie once again on the Canadians. Price is 32-21-6 with a 2.31 GAA and a .924 save percentage. He is currently on a four-game winning streak and is 1-0-1 in his career against St. Louis.

The Canadiens are dealing with the aftermath of the Zdeno Chara hit on Max Pacioretty, as this will be their first game since the hit. Losing a player to such a difficult injury has a way of galvanizing a team, and the Blues will see a very close-knit team tonight.

The Blues NEED this game if they harbor any thoughts of a playoff run, but it will be difficult against such a hot team. The one thing going for the Blues is the records of these two teams against the opposite conference. The Blues are 10-4-3 against the East, while the Canadiens are 6-7-2 against the West.

Game time is 7 p.m. central time tonight.