Mason, Blues look to stay hot against Blackhawks - The Hockey News on Sports Illustrated

Mason, Blues look to stay hot against Blackhawks

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By Andy Lefkowitz

Stats Editor

St. Louis (37-30-9) at Chicago (40-24-11) 8:30 p.m. EDT

CHICAGO (AP) -- St. Louis Blues coach Andy Murray says he's not

a believer in momentum. But with the season winding down and his

team still somehow in the mix for its first playoff berth since

2004, it's hard to believe otherwise.

Chris Mason and the Blues will try to keep several streaks alive

Wednesday night when they meet the Chicago Blackhawks at the

United Center for the final time in the regular season.

St. Louis is 4-0-1 against Chicago this season, but it's Mason

who's been unbeatable in two starts against the Blues' most

bitter Central Division rival. He turned aside 21 shots in a 2-0

victory in Chicago on January 21, then turned in another shutout

on February 13, making 22 saves in the Blues' 1-0 home victory.

"We've definitely played two great games against them as a

team," Mason said after the most recent win against the

Blackhawks. "They're a good team, so I wouldn't go saying (I

have their number) yet."

The Blues have defied the odds to remain in the hunt for one of

the last playoff spots. On February 24, they were 14th in the

West, but have since gone 11-4-1, and begin play in ninth - one

point behind Anaheim and Nashville, which are tied for seventh.

Five of St. Louis' final six games are on the road, where

they're 15-17-4. But the Blues won their fifth in a row Sunday

with a 5-2 victory over Columbus to sweep a home-and-home

series.

"I don't believe in momentum, because I don't know what it is,"

said Murray, whose team posted a 4-3 shootout win in St. Louis

one night earlier. "I just know that every game and every

sporting event stands on it's own. You've got to go out and

establish your own credibility. For us to win two games against

them is gratifying because they're a really good team."

Mason made 26 saves for his 23rd win, one shy of his career best

set in 2006-07 with Nashville. Patrik Berglund had a goal and

two assists, and is third among rookies with 47 points.

Berglund has two goals and three assists in a three-game streak,

but just one assist in four games versus Chicago.

The Blackhawks, seeking their first playoff berth since 2002,

are having trouble finding the back of the net lately. After

being overpowered in a 4-0 home loss to Vancouver on Sunday,

Chicago allowed a goal 25 seconds in on Tuesday and fell 4-1 at

Montreal.

The Blackhawks dropped to 0-5-0 when giving up a score in the

opening minute.

The loss, combined with Vancouver's overtime win in Minnesota,

pushed the Blackhawks into fifth place in the West. Chicago is

one point behind Calgary for fourth in the conference, and

home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

"If we play hard and we go out there and win games and fight as

a team, the standings take care of itself," Chicago captain

Jonathan Toews said. "Obviously, there are things we can't

control. We had a tough loss against Vancouver the other night

and now we don't play them again, so whatever happens away from

where we are is out of our control. We've just got to focus on

what we can do out there."

Patrick Sharp notched his 26th goal for Chicago with just under

eight minutes to play. He has one assist and is a team-worst

minus-5 in five games versus the Blues.

Though coach Joel Quenneville has alternated Huet and Nikolai

Khabibulin in net for much of the season, the Russian will

probably see the bulk of playing time from here on out.

Khabibulin is 2-1-0 in his last three starts, but has given up

11 goals for 3.53 GAA. He hasn't lost in regulation in five

starts against St. Louis, going 3-0-2 with a 2.92 GAA.

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