WATCH LIVE: Blues, Predators finish home-and-home on NBC

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NBC’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Sunday’s matchup between the St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators. Coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

The Predators host the Blues at Bridgestone Arena less than 24 hours after the two clubs met at Enterprise Center in St. Louis, where the Blues prevailed 3-2. Ryan Johansen gave Nashville some life by scoring with just over a minute to play in regulation moments after St. Louis’ Jaden Schwartz missed an empty net. But the Blues managed to close things out to continue their hot streak. Rookie Mackenzie MacEachern’s second goal of the season stood up as the game-winner.

Once left for dead in last place in the NHL as recently as the morning of Jan. 3, the Blues are now one of the hottest teams in the NHL, riding a season-high five-game winning streak. They enter today in the second wild card spot in the Western Conference and just four points behind the Dallas Stars for third in the Central.

In the expansion era, only six teams have made the playoffs after occupying last place in the League after their 20th game of the season: the 1976-77 North Stars, 1979-80 Oilers, 1982-83 Maple Leafs, 1987-88 Kings, 1987-88 Maple Leafs and 1996-97 Senators.

Johansen has been red hot of late for the Predators with 12 points (3G, 9A) in the last 11 games. He also on pace for 69 points this season, which would be his highest point total as a Predator (his career-best was 71 points in 2014-15 with Columbus).

Nashville made two moves this week, acquiring Brian Boyle from the Devils for a second-round pick and Cody McLeod from the Rangers for a seventh-round pick. Both seem to be moves of foresight for the playoffs, as the Predators appear to be on a collision course with the physical Winnipeg Jets for the second straight year.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 12:30 P.M. ET – NBC]

What: St. Louis Blues at Nashville Predators
Where: Bridgestone Arena
When: Sunday, Feb. 10, 12:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBC
Live stream: You can watch the Blues-Predators stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

BLUES
Brayden Schenn – Ryan O’Reilly – Vladimir Tarasenko
Jaden Schwartz – Tyler BozakAlex Steen
Zach SanfordOskar SundqvistPatrick Maroon
MacKenzie MacEachern – Ivan BarbashevRobert Thomas

Joel EdmundsonAlex Pietrangelo
Jay BouwmeesterColton Parayko
Vince DunnRobert Bortuzzo

Starting goalie: Jake Allen

PREDATORS
Filip Forsberg – Ryan Johansen – Viktor Arvidsson
Kevin FialaNick BoninoCraig Smith
Colton SissonsKyle TurrisCalle Jarnkrok
Cody McLeod – Brian Boyle – Ryan Hartman

Roman JosiRyan Ellis
Mattias EkholmP.K. Subban
Dan HamhuisMatt Irwin

Starting goalie: Juuse Saros

John Forslund (play-by-play), Joe Micheletti (analyst) and McGuire (‘Inside-the-Glass analyst) will have the call from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn. McHugh, Milbury and Jones will anchor studio coverage.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

austonmatthews
Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports
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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

caufield surgery
David Kirouac/USA TODAY Sports
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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

matty beniers
Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports
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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.