Unable to spend much time admiring a six-game win streak that ended Friday night in Columbus, the St. Louis Blues still have plenty of work to do.
At least they will be in familiar surroundings with seven of their final eight games at home beginning with an 11:30 a.m. Sunday morning bout with the rival Chicago Blackhawks.
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock will be making his second straight attempt at picking up his 600th career win with a record of 599-380-171. Other former Blues coaches who have reached 600 wins are Scotty Bowman, Al Arbour, Mike Keenan, Joel Queeneville and Jacques Martin.
The Blues (23-15-2, 48 points) still have a shot at the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference, but must keep winning to avoid falling behind the No. 8 seed cutoff in the playoff race.
They won three of four games on their recent four-game road trip, three of them courtesy of Brian Elliott shutouts. Playing their third game in four nights and fourth in a six-day span, the Blues lost 4-1 Friday at Columbus with rookie goalie Jake Allen allowing four goals on 19 shots.
Eight Western Conference teams began Saturday with between 43 and 50 points as they head down the stretch on what is sure to be a wild finish.
Elliott has three straight shutouts and a shutout streak of 189 minutes, 29 seconds. He has won his last five decisions and will be in net for the Blues against Chicago, having turned away the last 66 shots sent his way.
Elliott (8-6-1, 2.68 goals-against average, .892 save percentage) was 3-5-1 with a 3.82 goals-against average in nine starts before the shutout streak began.
The Blues beat the Blackhawks 4-3 in a shootout on April 4, ending a seven-game losing streak in Chicago.
While the Blues' goaltending and defense have improved, a troublesome offense supplied only five goals during the four-game road trip. Another worrisome area is the power play, now 3-for-40 over its previous 15 games following an 0-for-5 outing Friday against Columbus.
Chris Stewart and Patrik Berglund each have four power-play goals for the Blues and rookie Vladimir Tarasenko has three. Stewart also is the Blues' top scorer with 16 goals and 31 points.
The other half of the Blues' special-teams equation is rolling along with the team killing off all 20 power-play chances for opponents over the last nine games.
Chicago is coming off a 3-2 shootout victory over Detroit on Friday that allowed the Blackhawks to clinch the NHL Central Division title.
"It's another one of those games where we don't let up and find a way to win," Blackhawks star Jonathan Toews told the Chicago Tribune. "We had some great goaltending in that shootout and a couple of big goals. We're going to keep going. That's the No. 1 thing. We have our division and we have home-ice in the playoffs. We just keep building."
The Blackhawks own the NHL's best record at 31-5-4 and have won four straight. Chicago is 7-2-1 in its last 10 games and 16-2-2 on the road.
Patrick Kane (20 goals, 46 points, eight power-play goals) and Toews (20 goals, 41 points) continue to pace the Chicago scoring attack.
Forward Patrick Sharp is back for the Blackhawks after being out 14 games with a left shoulder injury.