Originally written January 12, 2012 on Fox Sports Midwest:
The St. Louis Blues have been tough to beat at home, helping them become one of the best teams in the Western Conference. The Vancouver Canucks have shown they can win on the road, propelling them to the top of those standings. Owners of the most home points in the NHL, the Blues try to remain undefeated in regulation for the 11th straight game at the Scottrade Center on Thursday night when they take on a Canucks team that is tied for the most road wins in the league. St. Louis (25-12-5) is tied with Chicago for first place in the Central Division, and those teams trail Vancouver (27-14-3) by two points for the top spot in the West. Most of the Blues' success can be attributed to their play at home, where they've gone 17-3-2. St. Louis is 9-0-1 in its last 10 games on its own ice, winning three in a row by a combined 12-4 margin. "That only lasts so long in the Western Conference unless you continue to play well and get points every night," captain David Backes said after a 4-0 home win over Colorado on Saturday. "That's our goal. We've got to establish our tough game on the road." The Blues did just that Tuesday night, posting another shutout and scoring three more goals at Montreal. St. Louis hasn't blanked three straight opponents since Dec. 1-6, 1988. Brian Elliott defeated the Avalanche by making just 15 saves, and Jaroslav Halak only had to stop 19 shots Tuesday as St. Louis extended its win streak to a season high-tying four. Elliott has a West-leading 1.62 goals-against average in 21 games, while Halak's is at 2.19 in 22 contests. Elliott has started both times versus Vancouver this season, stopping 60 of 62 shots in a pair of wins. Blues center T.J. Oshie has two goals and two assists in those victories, while Backes has contributed a goal and two assists. "St. Louis has been rough on us so far this year, they're always a tough team to play against, they play really hard games, so we have to be on our A-game if we want to get anything out of there," right wing Jannik Hansen told the Canucks' official website. The Blues are 4-1-1 in their last six at home against the Canucks, winning 3-2 on Nov. 4. St. Louis has taken four of six overall in the series since the start of last season. Vancouver, however, enters this matchup having won five of seven on the road, and is tied with Philadelphia for the NHL's most victories away from home with 15. The Canucks improved to 2-1-0 on their four-game trip with a 5-4 shootout win over Tampa Bay on Tuesday night. They escaped with two points after blowing a two-goal lead in the third period and allowing the tying score with 1:01 remaining. "They came at us hard at certain moments in this game," coach Alain Vigneault said after the Canucks pushed their record to 21-0-0 when leading going into the third period. "They tied it up at the end, and we still found a way to win, so I'd say that's positive." Roberto Luongo is expected to start Thursday after Cory Schneider beat the Lightning. Luongo - who has dropped three of his last four starts - lost the November matchup in St. Louis, where he's 5-7-0 with a 3.05 GAA lifetime.
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