ST LOUIS (CBSMiami/AP) – The Florida Panthers will face a familiar foe when they play in St. Louis for the only time this season.
The comforts of home were always there for Martin Brodeur during his 21 seasons in New Jersey, where the winningest goalie in NHL history earned 379 of his victories.
Now the future Hall of Famer will experience something new at the age of 42.
Brodeur makes his first home start in a St. Louis uniform Monday night when the Blues face off against the Panthers.
Brodeur has appeared in two games since St. Louis (17-8-2) signed him Tuesday, losing his first start 4-3 on Thursday in Nashville before picking up a win Saturday by stopping 14 of 15 shots in relief of Jake Allen to help the Blues beat the New York Islanders 6-4.
“Not what I expected, that’s for sure,” Brodeur told the Blues’ official website. “I think it’s been a tough road trip. We played some tough teams.
“It’s nice. First one out of the way so I’m excited about that.”
Brodeur will chase his 690th career win Monday behind a defensive unit coming off its worst stretch this season. St. Louis has allowed four goals in each of the last three contests after surrendering four only twice across the first 24 games.
“We haven’t played our best hockey,” defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. “We’ve looked almost lazy and haven’t really played that smart, simple game we’re so good at … Then we start to play and we look like the Blues that everyone kind of says that we are, the fast, hard-hitting, simple kind of blue-collar team.”
The Blues ended a two-game skid Saturday behind the offense, which had three goals in both the second and third periods to overcome a 3-0 deficit. Paul Stastny scored two, T.J. Oshie got his third this season and Vladimir Tarasenko his fifth in five games.
They’ll look to carry that momentum into what statistically is shaping up to be a defensive battle. Florida (11-7-7) ranks in the NHL’s top 10 with 2.40 goals allowed per game, sitting just behind the Blues, who allow an average of 2.26.
The Panthers have not allowed more than three during their 4-1-1 stretch.
Rookie defenseman Aaron Ekblad has led the charge on both ends of the ice. The 2014 first overall draft pick leads the NHL with six points this month and the team with 13 assists this season.
“I don’t want to get too cocky or anything like that, but pretty happy to be producing and I couldn’t be doing that without some help from these guys,” Ekblad told the Panthers’ official site. “They’re making great plays and giving me those opportunities.”
Florida, kicking off a three-game trip, sits near the bottom of the NHL with 2.20 goals per game but has 10 over its last three, including Saturday’s 3-2 win over Buffalo.
“I thought we played really well as a team,” said goaltender Roberto Luongo, who stopped 26 shots. “Now we’ve got to focus on a big road trip for us here.”
Luongo will likely start in net again and seeks his fourth win in five games. He is 15-11-0-1 against the Blues in his career, but lost his last meeting 4-3 in a shootout on Feb. 17, 2013, while still with Vancouver.
The Blues have won four straight over the Panthers by a combined score of 17-2, including a 7-0 victory Oct. 5, 2013, in the most recent meeting in St. Louis.
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