The injury-depleted St. Louis Blues will bid for a third consecutive road victory when they visit the slumping Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.
After adding winger Vladimir Tarasenko (hand) and center Ryan O’Reilly to their extensive injury list, the Blues won 6-5 at Toronto in a shootout Tuesday and 5-3 at New Jersey on Thursday.
Tarasenko and O’Reilly joined forward Logan Brown and defensemen Torey Krug, Marco Scandella and Scott Perunovich on the sidelines. Those casualties have tested the Blues’ depth and resolve as they try to stay in the Western Conference playoff race.
“We’ve got lots of depth,” said Blues forward Robert Thomas, who scored two goals and added an assist in the victory over the Devils. “That’s been our key for many years. It obviously sucks losing those guys, but other guys have got to step up. So far, we’ve done it, and we’ve just got to keep on going.”
The Blues will looking to clean up their defensive play after allowing the Devils to put 39 shots on goal and keep goaltender Jordan Binnington under duress.
“All in all, ‘Binner’ was great tonight. He was lights out. We battled, but we’ve got to be better,” Blues coach Craig Berube said.
Said Thomas: “From the start, you know we didn’t play great in front of him. And he kept us in it and made some big saves at big moments that really helped us win. So hats off to him, he was remarkable.”
The Blues have earned points in 10 of their last 12 games while going 7-2-3.
“We talked about a next-man-up mentality,” Blues winger Brandon Saad said. “I think it’s just playing the right way. When you have injuries, I think you can tighten it up, we’re checking better and we’re getting lots of chances and opportunities. We’re capitalizing on them.”
The Canadiens have lost seven straight games while being outscored 36-12. They fell 4-1 at home to the New York Rangers on Thursday.
“We don’t have a ton of confidence right now,” Canadiens forward Jake Evans said. “But in the third (period), compared to the last few games, I thought we did a great job and we were taking it to them, and who knows, one more bounce and it’s a completely different game.”
The Canadiens have been going through growing pains amid their young players, including Juraj Slafkovsky, the first overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft. Slafkovsky made a costly giveaway in the loss to the Rangers.
“You always want plays back, you know,” Canadiens coach Martin St. Louis said Thursday. “Probably some that cost more, you want more. It’s probably something that he’ll think about tonight, and tomorrow (it’s) just a simple, ‘How you doing, Slaf? Are you OK? It’s part of it.’ Just a simple discussion, and we’ll go to work.”
Montreal’s task gets hard with the loss of defenseman Kaiden Guhle for eight weeks with a lower-body injury and winger Brendan Gallagher for two weeks with a lower-body injury.
Montreal won its previous game against the Blues this season 7-4 on Oct. 29 in St. Louis. Christian Dvorak scored a hat trick in that game, Cole Caufield scored twice and former Blues goaltender Jake Allen earned the victory.
–Field Level Media