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Blues-Devils Preview


STATS Writer

(AP) -- The St. Louis Blues weren't about to lose three straight for the first time this season. Their depth and versatility saw to that.

Dominant this season against the Eastern Conference, the visiting Blues get another chance to continue that Tuesday night versus the New Jersey Devils.

Having dropped consecutive games in regulation for only the second time this season, the Blues (33-10-5) got three of their four goals from defensemen in a 4-1 victory at Detroit on Monday. Barret Jackman scored for the second straight contest, netting the eventual game-winner in the second period.

Alexander Steen had two assists for his first points in two games after missing nearly a month with a concussion. St. Louis had 10 players record at least a point and Jaroslav Halak stopped 22 shots.

"We had a full team effort," Jackman said. "The first 50 minutes, I thought we played a total, controlled, very aggressive solid game."

The win improved the Blues to 14-2-1 against the East, which bodes well since their next five games are against the opposite conference.

"The first two periods we played the way we had to play," St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. "I think the scoring chances were about even in the first two periods but the zone time was in our favor."

Hitchcock's team has been especially strong on the road of late, recording at least a point in 10 of its last 11 away from St. Louis. During that stretch, the Blues have outscored opponents 37-18. They have been especially strong on special teams in those games, going 11 of 35 on the power play and killing off 39 of 45 short-handed situations.

That power play will be in for a tough challenge against the Devils, who rank among the league's best with an 86.3 percentage on the penalty kill. New Jersey has surrendered only six goals the last 49 times short-handed over the past 15 games.

Cory Schneider is scheduled to start in net for the Devils (20-19-11). He is second in the NHL with a 1.91 goals-against average, going 2-0-2 with a 0.94 GAA and one shutout in his last four starts.

"I can't make any mistakes on my end, I can't give them any free goals, and put us down or put us in a situation where we need to score two or three times because they are pretty elite," Schneider said of the Blues. "This year they've added a dimension of offense to their game. They've always been a solid team, but this year they seem to be scoring more than I have in the past. We're going to have our hands full on both ends of the ice."

Schneider made four starts against St. Louis while with Vancouver and went 2-1-1 with a 1.96 GAA.

New Jersey (20-19-11) is returning home after dropping three of four on a recent road trip. At Phoenix on Saturday, the Devils trailed 2-0 less than 14 minutes into the game and couldn't come all the way back in a 3-2 loss.

Right wing Damien Brunner could return for New Jersey after missing 14 games with a lower-body injury. He had four goals in five games before the injury.

"Injury's never fun, but it helped maybe a little bit to go through it knowing that I played some good games before I got injured," Brunner told the team's official website.

The Blues have won four of five overall against the Devils and three straight meetings in New Jersey.

Updated January 21, 2014

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