ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Blues will host the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night, most likely without leading scorer Vladimir Tarasenko.
Tarasenko, who has a team-high 27 goals, left Saturday night’s game against the New York Rangers with an upper-body injury. He missed Sunday’s game at Chicago and did not participate in the Blues’ practice Tuesday.
“We were hopeful that he was going to be able to come to the rink and practice today, and once we determined that wasn’t going to happen, then I would say that he’s doubtful for tomorrow,” Blues coach Mike Yeo told NHL.com after Tuesday’s skate.
With Tarasenko out, defenseman Vince Dunn stepped into his role on the team’s top power-play line and the Blues have scored in three of their past four man-advantages.
Forward Alexander Steen has taken Tarasenko’s place on the top line with Jaden Schwartz and Brayden Schenn.
“Obviously, we’d love to have (Tarasenko) in the lineup,” Yeo told NHL.com. “We know what he is and what he means for our team and so no question, it’s a significant loss. But we don’t have the opportunity or even the possibility for our team to sit around and think about what could be right now. Obviously, we have to look at the group that we have, and we believe that we still have a capable group.”
The Blues trail the Anaheim Ducks by three points for the final wild-card slot in the Western Conference.
Any thoughts that the Blues would wilt without Tarasenko were quickly dispelled when they beat the Rangers and Blackhawks in overtime after overcoming third-period deficits in each game.
Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo has 11 points in the Blues’ last four wins, including a four-point night against the Blackhawks. The captain scored the tying goals against both the Rangers and Blackhawks.
“Last couple years, really just taking an onus on shooting the puck a little bit more when I’ve got a lane,” Pietrangelo told NHL.com. “Just trying to get it off a little bit quicker. Seems to be working.”
The Bruins beat the Blues 3-1 in Boston on Feb. 1.
The Bruins are coming off a 5-4 overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday. Boston’s 99 points is the third most in the league.
The highlight for Boston was the play of center Ryan Donato, who was making his NHL debut one day after he left Harvard following his junior season. Donato had a goal and two assists.
“I mean, it was fun,” Donato told NHL.com. “Obviously, it ended tough, but at the end of the day, I was excited and I think it all went well personally, but I’d say it’s still bitter because of the loss.”
Donato, a second-round (No. 56) pick by the Bruins in the 2014 draft, left a positive first impression on his teammates.
“Good for his confidence to get the first one,” Bruins forward David Krejci told NHL.com. “That is always the hardest, but he’s got to keep playing the way he played today. I thought he played well and he made some good plays. He easily could have got a couple of more, but that’s a good start for him.”