Blues try to stretch streak to nine vs. Devils

The St. Louis Blues will bid for their ninth consecutive victory when they visit the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.

The Devils, who sit last in the Metropolitan Division, have just one victory in their past four games but are 4-1-2 in their past seven. They are also 12-10-10 at home this season at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

The Western Conference-leading Blues started their winning streak with a 3-0 victory over the Devils on Feb. 18. Prior to that, the Blues went 2-7-3 during a 12-game downturn.

"When we went through that stretch when we weren't playing very good hockey, it was almost a good thing for us," Blues forward Brayden Schenn, who has a goal in five straight games, told reporters recently. "It gets us back to be in the race again, playing tighter hockey, playing playoff hockey and earning our points every given night."

The Blues lead the Central Division by two points over the Colorado Avalanche, who have played one fewer game this season. The Dallas Stars eight points back of St. Louis.

"Right now we're in the race, and Colorado and Dallas are good hockey teams, and it's going to be a fight to the finish," Schenn said.

Goaltender Jordan Binnington made 17 saves against the Devils to earn the shutout in that streak-starting win. He has allowed two goals or fewer in six of his last seven starts.

Backup netminder Jake Allen won two of three games in February while posting a 2.62 goals-against average.

"We just keep building," Binnington said. "We keep building every day, and it all adds up in the end, so we're going to stay focused and keep working and keep coming together as a team and rally just tightening up our game and keep moving forward."

Louis Domingue made 36 saves in goal for the New Jersey against the Blues last month, but the Devils later traded him to the Vancouver Canucks as part of the franchise's ongoing rebuild under interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald.

Forward Wayne Simmonds, who also played against the Blues, moved on to the Buffalo Sabres before the NHL trade deadline. Defenseman Will Butcher was injured during that earlier Blues game, and he will miss the rest of the season after undergoing thumb surgery.

On the plus side, veteran goaltender Cory Schneider returned from the AHL and went 2-0-1 with just four goals allowed in his first three starts back with the Devils.

Schneider will share the workload with Mackenzie Blackwood for the rest of the season -- if he can keep making timely saves as he did during his 3-0 shutout of the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday.

"We have said that about Mackenzie Blackwood a lot, and here is Schneider doing the same thing," interim coach Alain Nasreddine said.

Blackwood played well in the Devils' most recent game, keeping his team close in a 3-0 road loss Tuesday night to the Vegas Golden Knights. The Devils will seek a rebound performance against the Blues.

"Our execution was atrocious," Nasreddine said after loss to the Golden Knights. "Our level of focus wasn't great, and our execution cost us a lot of problems."

--Field Level Media
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