Blues hope to get veterans back as Sabres visit
The St. Louis Blues hope to get winger Vladimir Tarasenko and defenseman Torey Krug back in the lineup Tuesday when they host the Buffalo Sabres.
Tarasenko has been sidelined since Dec. 31 with a hand injury while Krug has been on the shelf since Dec. 23 with a lower-body injury.
Both players practiced at full speed ahead of Tuesday’s game at Enterprise Center, which will conclude St. Louis’ seven-game homestand. The Blues went 3-3 in the first six games without their two key veterans.
“They practiced today full again, which is good,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “Kruger getting another one in there, Vladi’s been with us and they both seem good. Kind of wait and see.”
Tarasenko skated on a line with Brayden Schenn and Ivan Barbashev at even strength, and he moved back onto the net-front position on the top power-play unit.
“Vladi’s done a good job around the net,” Berube said. “We’ve put him around the net a little bit this year. He’s done a good job there, he’s big, he’s hard to handle down there. His hands, he can take pucks to the net and score. Hard to move, rebounds, things like that. I like him there.”
Krug skated on a pairing with rookie Tyler Tucker at even strength and he quarterbacked the top power-play unit, bumping Justin Faulk down to the second unit.
Berube hopes Krug can improve the Blues’ puck movement with the man advantage.
“Moving that puck quick, one second makes the difference of getting a shot through and then good things happen,” Berube said. “It’s really important to move the puck quick from the top and get that puck into the flanker’s hands or get your shot through. Kruger’s got four power play goals this year, too. He’s using his shot, and it’s been effective.”
The Sabres started their four-game road trip by defeating the Dallas Stars 3-2 in overtime Monday night.
“We were able to collect ourselves after the first period,” said Sabres coach Don Granato, whose team fell behind 1-0 less than two minutes into the game and didn’t have a shot on goal for the first nine minutes against Dallas. “We could have been down 4-1 or 5-1. Our guys at that point understood the competitive level of the game and we rose to it.”
Victor Olofsson scored his ninth goal in his last 10 games and Owen Power ended the game just 56 seconds into overtime with his first goal of the season.
Buffalo has remained in the Eastern Conference playoff race by playing well on the road, where it is 10-2-1 in its last 13 games away from home. The Sabres have a four-game point streak (3-0-1) overall.
“Nothing but confidence in this group,” Granato said. “That doesn’t mean we’re not going to go through what we went through (Monday). You’re playing in the NHL. You have an $80 million payroll against you almost every night in the NHL. You’re playing against great players.
“So what I liked is within the context of the game we didn’t lose composure once and we identified the right way to play.”
The Sabres won 6-2 at home on Nov. 23 in their previous game against the Blues. Jeff Skinner and Jack Quinn each scored two goals in that game and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 34 saves.
Craig Anderson started in goal for the Sabres in Dallas, so Luukkonen figures to get another shot at the Blues.
–Field Level Media