Vancouver Canucks (43-27-5) at St. Louis Blues (46-22-7), 8 p.m. (ET)
(SportsNetwork.com) – The St. Louis Blues hope to punch a ticket to the playoffs for a fourth straight spring on Monday. The Vancouver Canucks, meanwhile, have a little more work left to get back to the postseason.
The clubs will face each other on Monday night when the Blues host a Western Conference battle at Scottrade Center.
The Blues have 99 points, leaving them three behind Nashville for the Central Division lead. The Predators have officially locked up a postseason spot.
Vancouver is at 91 points, two ahead of Calgary for second place in the Pacific Division and only three ahead of Los Angeles, which is just outside of the playoff picture. Both teams chasing the Canucks play tonight, with the Flames visiting Dallas and Los Angeles on the road against Chicago.
The Canucks have not helped their case much over the last two games, earning just a point from the final two tilts of a three-game homestand. Vancouver began the stay at Rogers Arena with a 5-2 win over Winnipeg for its third straight victory, but has since lost to Colorado and Dallas.
The Avalanche posted a 4-1 win over the Canucks on Thursday, but Vancouver was able to score a goal late in regulation to earn a point from Dallas on Saturday.
The Stars scored two straight goals in the third period to take a 3-2 lead over the Canucks, but Radim Vrbata notched a power-play marker with 1:32 left in regulation to even things. However, John Klingberg would give the extra point to Dallas when he tallied with 47 seconds left in the extra session.
Vrbata’s goal was his 30th of the season, marking the second time he’s reached the 30-goal plateau. Vrbata also recorded an assist on Saturday.
Nick Bonino added a goal and a helper as well and Chris Higgins scored the other goal for the Canucks. Eddie Lack stopped 36-of-40 shots in defeat.
“We control our own destiny and have a big week coming up,” Bonino said.
This evening’s test kicks off a four-game road trip for Vancouver, which owns a solid 22-12-3 mark as the guest. The Canucks also will visit Nashville, Chicago and Winnipeg during this swing before ending the regular season with a three-game homestand.
The Blues have lost four of their last five games and failed to gain a point from Saturday’s 4-2 home setback against Columbus. It marked the eighth straight road win for the Blue Jackets.
Brian Elliott gave up three goals on 16 shots for the Blues, who returned to Scottrade Center following a 3-1-2 road trip. They fell to 24-10-2 as the host.
St. Louis ranks ninth in the NHL in goals against (2.43 goals per game) but has allowed 17 goals over the last five games.
“We can’t be offense, offense, offense. You’ve got to keep it out of your net, too. Starting with me, we’ve got to be better,” Elliott said.
Patrik Berglund posted a goal and an assist in Saturday’s loss, while Vladimir Tarasenko recorded his 36th marker of the season.
St. Louis also received mixed news on the injury front Saturday. Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk was back in the lineup after an abdominal injury forced him to miss 25 games, but forward Alexander Steen left in the first period with a lower-body injury and didn’t return.
Steen, who is second to Tarasenko on the team with 62 points, could play in tonight’s game. Forward T.J. Oshie is expected to return this evening after sitting out Saturday with flu-like symptoms.
St. Louis is playing the middle part of a three-game homestand tonight and will cap the residency Thursday against Calgary.
Vancouver has won three of its last four at Scottrade Center and has claimed five straight in the series overall. The Canucks have gained a point from 10 straight games in this series (8-0-2).