Red Wings-Blues Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 05, 2011
After struggling against one of the NHL's best scoring teams, the St. Louis Blues might have another challenge in trying to stop the perennially potent Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings, though, may not have forward Valtteri Filppula available for Tuesday night's visit to the Scottrade Center. In giving up 2.12 goals per game, the Blues (14-9-3) have been one of the NHL's best defensive teams this season. They had allowed two or fewer in 13 of 14 contests before opening a five-game homestand Saturday against Chicago, which handed St. Louis a 5-2 loss as Brian Elliott was beaten four times. "Sometimes they hit you and stay out, sometimes they go in," said Elliott, who had given up two goals or fewer in each of his first 12 games. "I don't think we played the kind of hockey that we wanted to. We just have to learn from tonight. It's not the end of the world." St. Louis, 8-2-3 since Ken Hitchcock took over as coach, will next face a Red Wings team that has scored 29 times in the last eight games. Detroit (16-8-1) harnessed that surge into a season-high, seven-game win streak that ended with a 4-2 defeat in Colorado on Sunday in which Filppula got hurt. He suffered a cut on the leg while getting tangled up with Avalanche forward David Jones in the first period and was later sent to a local hospital for evaluation. With 21 points, Filppula is on pace to shatter his career high of 40 set in 2008-09. The center also had five goals and two assists during a five-game point streak that ended Sunday. He did not practice Monday and is considered day-to-day. "Fil's played probably as well as anybody has played," teammate Danny Cleary told the team's website. "He's been fantastic for us." Detroit struggled to generate much offense without Filppula, getting outshot 28-18 in the final two periods. Cleary lifted the Red Wings into a 2-all tie with 14:52 left, but they allowed a short-handed goal with 10:38 to play and an empty-netter in the final minute. Even with Filppula in the lineup, Detroit had a difficult time scoring during its most recent trip to St. Louis on Nov. 15. Elliott allowed only Drew Miller's goal early in the first period, and Alex Steen netted the go-ahead score in a 2-1 victory. While trying to avoid a season-high third straight defeat, the Blues will attempt to beat the Red Wings for the third consecutive time. The first of its consecutive wins over Detroit was a 10-3 rout at Joe Louis Arena on March 30. A sprained shoulder kept Red Wings starting goaltender Jimmy Howard from helping his team in that game, but he's expected to start this one. Howard is 5-1-0 with a 2.49 GAA in his last six starts against the Blues. St. Louis might start Elliott again in this game as he has a 2.43 GAA in three career appearances against Detroit. Fellow Blues netminder Jaroslav Halak has a 4.35 GAA in six matchups, his worst mark against any opponent.
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