The retooling St. Louis Blues found recent traction with newcomers Jakub Vrana and Kasperi Kapanen fitting in on their forward lines and goaltending prospect Joel Hofer winning twice.
The Blues will try to extend that trend Tuesday night when they host the Detroit Red Wings in the front end of a home-and-home sequence. The teams will face off again Thursday in Detroit.
The Blues (31-33-5, 67 points) have won four of their past six games, including 3-0 over the visiting Winnipeg Jets on Sunday.
Vrana has five goals and an assist in seven games since coming to the Blues in a trade with the Red Wings. Kapanen has four goals and two assists in 10 games since he was claimed off waivers from the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"I've been happy with (Kapanen) with his game," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "He's been pretty solid all around. Defensively, I said his awareness is good and he plays good 'D.' Offensively, I think he's gaining more confidence as it goes along."
Hofer won both starts since arriving from Springfield of the AHL to fill in for suspended goaltender Jordan Binnington. Hofer posted a 1.02 goals-against average and a .970 save percentage in those contests.
"He's not panicking," Blues defenseman Justin Faulk said. "He's getting out, he's playing the puck. Like I said, he's confident -- that's the way it feels, at least. Whether it is or not, you've got to ask him. But that's the way it feels for us. Guys enjoy playing in front of that. We just got to do our job to try and limit the damage."
Binnington is back to active duty after serving his two-game NHL ban. However, Berube suggested that Hofer may not return to the AHL, at least not yet.
"He's not going down, but it's great to see him play well," Berube said after the victory over Winnipeg. "It's great to see him get a shutout tonight. Good job by the team in front of him. Like I said, I thought they did a great job defending tonight."
The Red Wings (30-30-9, 69 points) are looking to generate more offense. They are 2-9-1 in their past 12 games, having scored fewer than three goals nine times during that span.
Detroit is coming off a 5-2 home loss to the Florida Panthers on Monday.
"We have a certain standard that we want to play by," Red Wings forward Andrew Copp said post-game. "There's going to be things that happen over the course of the game, but there are some non-negotiables that we need to stick to. For the most part it was all right tonight. Turnovers cost us, especially in the first.
"But we have to find a way to play more inspired than we did tonight."
Pius Suter has scored in back-to-back games for the Red Wings after failing to score in his previous 11 games. But Lucas Raymond (one goal in 16 games), David Perron (two goals in 26), Filip Zadina (two goals in 28), Dominik Kubalik (two goals in 15) and Joe Veleno (no goals in 20 games) are slumping.
With defensemen Gustav Lindstrom and Ben Chiarot injured, the Red Wings are looking at 20-year-old top prospect Simon Edvinsson, who arrived on an emergency recall from Grand Rapids of the AHL. Edvinsson, the sixth overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, played in his second NHL game Monday.
"I think if we're gonna take a step as a team, he and a lot of the young players are getting a big opportunity in the last games here," Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin said. "We're gonna need him, and all of us, to continue to develop and get better."
--Field Level Media