Blues try to get back on track vs. winless Blackhawks

NHL

After suffering their first loss of the season, the St. Louis Blues will try to get back on track while hosting the winless Chicago Blackhawks Saturday night.

“We have to get back to our game,” Blues defenseman Jake Walman said. “Can’t be worried about anything else, just play our system and the rest will take care of itself.”

The Blues started their season 5-0 before falling to the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 Thursday on home ice.

“Third period we fought back in the game,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “I like that about our team, we fight to the end. You had an opportunity to tie there, just missed.”

But, he added, “We need everybody on board to be ready to be on board when we play Colorado, any team. We need everybody on board to be ready to do their job.”

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks have staggered to an 0-6-2 start while being outscored 36-17. They lost 6-3 Friday night to the Carolina Hurricanes to start a quick two-game, two-night road swing.

“I think a lot of guys in this locker room still believe in this hockey team,” Blackhawks forward Brandon Hagel said after the game. “We have a really good hockey team.

“We’ve got a ton of hockey left. I believe we’ve got a good enough team and enough character to get out of this.”

The Blues’ loss to the Avalanche came in their first game without No. 1 center and team captain Ryan O’Reilly, who is sidelined in COVID-19 protocol. They kept Thursday’s game close despite getting outshot 42-18 while struggling to sustain puck possession against the swarming Avalanche.

“They’re a good team over there,” Blues forward Brayden Schenn said. “They play fast. We knew that. I don’t think we had skating legs tonight, I don’t think we moved our feet enough, and the result was for us to play probably way too much in our own end.”

The Blackhawks game will cap a four-game Blues home stand that began with 7-3 and 3-0 victories over the Los Angeles Kings.

The Blues will almost certainly start No. 1 goaltender Jordan Binnington (4-1-0, 3.02 goals-against average). After starting Kevin Lankinen in the nets Friday night, the Blackhawks are likely to start Marc-Andre Fleury (0-4-0, 5.75 GAA) in this game.

The Blackhawks had Patrick Kane, Henrik Borgstrom and Riley Stillman in COVID-19 protocol as of Friday while the Blues were missing O’Reilly and Brandon Saad for the same reason.

Also, Blackhawks center Tyler Johnson will likely miss Saturday night’s game after exiting midway through Friday night’s game after absorbing a cross-check.

“We’re not sure, we still got to evaluate him further,” Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said. “He wasn’t close to coming back tonight, and we’ll see how he is tomorrow. But I wouldn’t expect him for tomorrow.”

–Field Level Media

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