National Hockey League
Preview
St. Louis at Carolina
When: 7:00 PM ET, Saturday, April 8, 2017
Where: PNC Arena, Raleigh, North Carolina

The St. Louis Blues will be going into the postseason playing their best hockey of the season and look to seal third place in the Central Division when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night. The Blues are 8-1-2 in their last 11 after a 6-3 triumph over Florida on Thursday and need one point in their final two games to hold off Nashville for a chance to take on Minnesota in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

St. Louis, which also hosts league-worst Colorado on Sunday, has a one-point lead on Nashville and holds the tiebreaker on the Predators, who end their regular season at Winnipeg on Saturday. “We’ve just got to take our last couple of games here and not just get through them, we still need a point and we still need to build for the playoffs,” Blues center Patrik Berglund told reporters. “We’ve got to keep building on good habits.” Carolina climbed into a contending spot for a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference before dropping the first four games of April and managing only five goals in that span. Jeff Skinner leads the Hurricanes with 35 goals and 12 of them have come in the last 12 contests.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN Midwest (St. Louis), FSN Carolinas

ABOUT THE BLUES (44-29-7): Center Vladimir Sobotka, who spent the last three seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League, could make his season debut after signing a three-year contract Thursday. “We had hoped it wouldn’t get to that point three years ago,” St. Louis general manager Doug Armstrong told reporters. “But we tried to stay in contact to make sure we didn’t fray the relationship and I think that paid off this time when we were able to bring him back.” Vladimir Tarasenko boasts four goals in the last six games to move within two of his career-high total of 40 that he set last season.

ABOUT THE HURRICANES (35-31-14): Aside from Skinner, who leads the team with 61 points, most of the key offensive players have gone cold down the stretch. Sebastian Aho (48 points) supplied one point in the last five games, Victor Rask (44) managed one in the past six and Jordan Staal (43) has been kept off the scoresheet in five consecutive contests. Defensemen Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce lead the team with ratings of plus-24 and plus-21, respectively, while Justin Faulk leads the blue liners with 36 points and is slated to play his 400th NHL game Saturday.

OVERTIME

1. Carolina F Bryan Bickell has been kept off the scoresheet in two games since missing more than five months while being treated for multiple sclerosis.

2. Sobotka totaled 29 goals, 101 points and a plus-18 rating in four seasons with the Blues before leaving for the stint in Russia.

3. The Hurricanes outshot eight of their last nine opponents and went 4-4-1 in that stretch.

PREDICTION: Blues 4, Hurricanes 2
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away Day Night Div
St. Louis 44-29-5-2 W1 23-12-4-1 21-17-1-1 3-3-0-0 41-26-5-2 13-12-2-1
Carolina 35-31-9-5 L4 23-12-4-1 12-19-5-4 3-6-0-0 32-25-9-5 10-15-2-2
Last Meeting
St. Louis Carolina
Date Away Home Shots Saves PP Shots Saves PP
1/5/17 CAR 4 STL 2 23 25 1-5 29 21 1-5
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Total Points Player  
St. Louis J. Edmundson 1
Carolina B. McGinn 2
Goals Player  
St. Louis J. Edmundson 1
Carolina D. Ryan 2
Assists Player  
St. Louis R. Fabbri 1
Carolina B. McGinn 2
Saves Player  
St. Louis J. Allen 25
Carolina C. Ward 21
Season
Total Points Player  
St. Louis V. Tarasenko 75
Carolina J. Skinner 63
Goals Player  
St. Louis V. Tarasenko 40
Carolina J. Skinner 37
Assists Player  
St. Louis J. Schwartz 36
Carolina E. Lindholm 34
Saves Player  
St. Louis J. Allen 1487
Carolina C. Ward 1575
Quickchart Matchup
St. Louis Off vs  Carolina Def
2.82 GF
2.79 GA
28.3 Shots
28 Shots
49 PP
31 PK
Carolina Off vs  St. Louis Def
2.56 GF
2.62 GA
30.2 Shots
28.2 Shots
40 PP
40 PK