1st and 8th in Blues sights tonight

(SportsNetwork.com) - The hard-charging St. Louis Blues will aim for an eighth straight victory and sole possession of first place in the Central Division when they visit the sliding Vancouver Canucks for Friday's test at Rogers Arena.

PHOTOS:Best pictures from Blues win over Calgary

The Blues have won seven straight games and enter Friday tied atop the Central with the Chicago Blackhawks. Both teams have 67 points, but St. Louis has three games in hand and it will use one of them tonight as the Blackhawks are idle.

St. Louis, which is 9-0-1 over its last 10 games, has scored five goals or more in each of its last four games and the Blues slammed the Calgary Flames 5-0 in Thursday's tilt at the Saddledome. Jaroslav Halak posted 33 stops for his third shutout of the season in the easy road victory.

Vladimir Sobotka and Vladimir Tarasenko each had a goal and an assist, while Chris Stewart, Alex Pietrangelo and Ian Cole all scored for the Blues, who are on their longest winning streak since a nine-game run from Oct. 15-Nov. 5, 2002.

"It's nice to string a couple together here," said St. Louis center David Backes said. "It seems like you have to stay paced with some of these other teams in the West."

St. Louis will aim for a fifth straight road victory on Friday when it caps a three-game swing. The Blues are 14-4-3 as the visiting team this season.

While the Blues are on a big hot streak, the Canucks have matched a season- long skid with five consecutive losses. Vancouver is 0-2-3 during its current losing streak, matching another five-game slide (0-3-2) from Nov. 9-19.

Vancouver hasn't dropped six in a row since an eight-game losing streak from Jan. 9-31, 2009.

The club's two most recent losses have come after regulation, including a 5-4 shootout setback against visiting Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Although they trailed 2-0 early on, Vancouver scored four unanswered goals and led the game 4-2 after Zack Kassian scored with 6:36 left in the third period. However, the Penguins managed to even things before the end of regulation.

Kris Letang tallied for the Pens with 1:11 left in the third before Sidney Crosby notched the equalizer just 16 seconds later. Crosby also scored the lone goal of the shootout to help Pittsburgh grab the extra point.

Kassian and Chris Higgins each had a goal and an assist, while Eddie Lack posted 31 saves in a losing effort. Jason Garrison and Christopher Tanev also added goals for the Canucks.

"We dominated for 18 minutes in the third (period). In the end, they were better than us. They got the job done," said Tanev.

Vancouver suffered its third straight home loss, dropping the club to 11-6-5 this season at Rogers Arena.

With Roberto Luongo out due to an upper-body injury, Lack is expected to start in net again on Friday.

The Canucks have won two of three and four of their last six games against the Blues and they posted a 3-2 overtime victory in St. Louis on Oct. 25. Ryan Kesler scored the OT winner in that one and Lack picked up the win with 22 saves.


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