The St. Louis Blues and Tampa Bay Lightning have been heading in opposite directions going into their Tuesday night matchup.
The Blues have won back-to-back games, including an 8-2 rout of the host Colorado Avalanche on Saturday, and four of their past five coming into this meeting in St. Louis.
Meanwhile, the Lightning have lost two straight games, including a 4-0 setback against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday, and are just 2-3-2 in their past seven games.
This is the first meeting between the Blues and Lightning this season.
After early offensive struggles, the Blues have scored 22 goals in their past five games. The turnaround began after their 4-1 loss at Colorado on Nov. 1.
“Our offense has really changed or started to come around since the last time we were in (Ball Arena),” St. Louis captain Brayden Schenn said. “We had some meetings. Kind of showed league-wide trends and how to score and what really works, and what we were doing that wasn’t right. Ever since then, the buy-in has been there, and guys are getting rewarded for it.”
The Blues snapped out of a 1-for-37 power-play funk by scoring twice with the man advantage against the Avalanche on Saturday.
“It’s an honor and privilege to play on the power play,” Schenn said. “Everyone wants to do it on the team. Ask any guy, and they want to play the power play. Guys are capable of scoring goals. When you’re put out there, you have to get the job done. Us 10, 12 guys haven’t gotten the job done up until (Saturday).
“Hopefully, this is a chance for us to relax, take a breath and not grip it so tight.”
Schenn has five goals, including three against the Avalanche, and three assists in his past four games. Prior to that, he had no goals and one assist in his first nine games this season.
Winger Pavel Buchnevich also scored a hat trick in Colorado after scoring just one goal in his first 10 games. Center Robert Thomas has five goals and five assists in his past six games after producing one goal and four assists in his first seven.
Tampa Bay returned home from a four-game road trip last week and lost to the Chicago Blackhawks and the Hurricanes.
“For us though, to come home for just two home games and go back on the road … we’ve got to get these points,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “That’s disappointing to come out of these two games without points.”
The Lightning played the Hurricanes without star winger Nikita Kucherov, who was a late lineup scratch due to illness. He scored 11 goals and added 12 assists in his first 14 games.
“He’s one of the best, if not the best, especially on the power play,” Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos said. “We weren’t prepared for that coming in. It was kind of a last-second thing. Guys stepped up and did their best, but we couldn’t get it done. Can’t replace a guy like ‘Kuch.'”
Kucherov returned to practice Monday and is likely to play against the Blues. But defenseman Erik Cernak did not practice after exiting midway through Saturday’s game with an injury.
“Didn’t practice (Monday), as you guys know, but I talked to him before,” Lightning assistant coach Rob Zettler said. “He said he’s feeling good, so we’re hopeful.”
–Field Level Media