Blues aim to claim third place in Central

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The St. Louis Blues are tuning up for the playoffs and the Carolina Hurricanes are preparing for the offseason, but the teams have similar objectives going into Saturday night's game at PNC Arena.

The Blues securely are in the Western Conference playoffs, but there's still the matter of sorting out postseason positioning this weekend.

"Everybody is gearing up for playoffs," St. Louis left winger David Perron said.

The Blues (44-29-7) are trying to lock up third place in the Central Division, but they remain only one point ahead of the Nashville Predators (41-28-12), who are playoff-bound as well. A victory or extending the game to overtime against the Hurricanes would clinch that third-place divisional spot for St. Louis without going into the final day of the season with that uncertainty.

"Obviously, we're looking at other scores, but we're also expecting ourselves to take care of our games," Perron said. "I think it's huge in the playoffs. It would be huge to secure third place."

St. Louis, which will play its last road game of the regular season, is 13-2-2 across a period of a little more than a month. The Blues are coming off a four-goal third period that sealed a 6-3 victory over Florida on Thursday night.

"Hopefully we can get a little more consistent the last two games," St. Louis goalie Jake Allen said.

Meanwhile, the Blues have center Vladimir Sobotka back on the roster after three seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League. He's eligible to be on the ice Saturday night.

The Hurricanes will play their home finale before going to Philadelphia to complete the season Sunday. They want to create a good vibe heading to the offseason, and winning the last home game would be a step toward doing that.

For Carolina (35-31-14), which earlier this week was eliminated from playoff contention, there's the sense that many of the good deeds from March could be washed away in a matter of a little more than a week. The Hurricanes exited March on a 13-game point streak (9-0-4).

Since then, they've gone 0-4-0 in April.

"Everyone wants to win and that's what we try to do," Carolina right winger Sebastian Aho said.

However, there were serious concerns about the manner in which they handled the start of Thursday night's 3-0 home loss to the New York Islanders. Coach Bill Peters was pretty straightforward about how he didn't want to witness a repeat of that.

"I would suggest you go back to work and find the identity and share the workload to finish this off properly," Peters said.

Carolina is in danger of matching a season-worst five-game losing streak, which occurred in January.

Even with the playoffs no longer a possibility for Carolina, Peters said there are important aspects to the final weekend of the season.

"You continue to watch and continue to evaluate," he said.

For Carolina left winger Bryan Bickell, it has been an emotional week. He returned to the NHL ice for the first time since October after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

He was overcome with emotion following Thursday's home game, which was his second contest back at his level and his first in front of family in the home arena.

On Friday, the Hurricanes called up forward Sergey Tolchinsky from Charlotte of the American Hockey League. In return, center Andrew Poturalski was sent to the Checkers after playing his first two NHL games earlier this week.

© 2017 STATS.COM


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment