Saturday, January 14, 2012

Blues finally win in a shootout, top Wild

Shattenkirk provides lone goal; Halak stops all three

The Blues can quit talking about the lack of shootout success. They've finally penetrated the barrier.

Thanks to Kevin Shattenkirk, who got redemption after he had his first career shootout attempt foiled against the Minnesota Wild earlier this season.

Shattenkirk scored the lone shootout goal and Jaroslav Halak stopped all three Minnesota shooters as the Blues downed the Wild 3-2 at the Scottrade Center on Saturday night.
(Getty Images)
Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (22) scores in the shootout against
Wild goalie Josh Harding Saturday night. The Blues won the shootout 1-0.

Shattenkirk scored the first shootout goal of his career as the Blues won in a shootout for the first time in six tries this season.

And a little chat session with assistant coach Scott Mellanby did the trick.

"He kind of said in a practice a couple weeks ago when I had a little streak going there, he said it was my pace that seemed to really be what was driving me," said Shattenkirk, who helped the Blues (26-12-6) win a shootout for the first time in seven tries dating back to last season. "I think he was completely right. When I go a little too slow, I seem to think about it too much. Tonight, I kind of just went with a little speed and it seems like I don't think as much. I see it and go for it."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock used Shattenkirk, T.J. Oshie and Jamie Langenbrunner in the shootout because they've been the best in team tryouts in practice.

"We're using Shattenkirk there because he did good in our tryouts," Hitchcock said. "So did Oshie, and then he did a dingle-dangle or whatever that was. I'm not sure what that was. He surprised us, because we never seen that move. He scores in the tryouts, too. We'll have a little chat with him about that on Monday."

When Halak, who stopped 29 shots to improve to 8-0-3 in his last 11 starts, finally was given a lead in a shootout, it was ready to embrace the challenge and pounce.

The Blues were 0-5 in shootouts this season and Halak had been in all five and the Blues' netminder stopped a personal nine-game streak of shootout losses dating back to Nov. 6, 2010. The team was 1-for-17 this season in shootout attempts before going 1-for-3 Saturday night.

"I'm 0-5, so if we lose, I'm 0-6. It doesn't matter," Halak joked. "At least you get one point. ... When I seen Shatty score the goal for us, I told myself this is the chance for us. On the third one, I got a little bit lucky. It hit the knob. It's really a great feeling to win that game."

Halak thwarted Matt Cullen, Dany Heatley and then Devin Setoguchi. Shattenkirk was able to beat Harding, who stopped a whopping 47 shots to earn the Wild (22-16-7) at least a point.

Shattenkirk, who also had an assist in the game, got redemption against Harding, who turned away the Blues defenseman in a game on Nov. 19 in which the Wild won 1-0.

"That was my first one and I thought I was going to have one," Shattenkirk recalled. "I was hoping in a sense it was going to go in a shootout because I kind of wanted to get a little revenge there.

"(Harding) played great tonight. You got to tip your hat to him. Forty-nine (shots) and he made some big saves in the shootout as well."

David Perron and Alex Pietrangelo scored for the Blues, who are 10-0-2 in their last 12 home games. They also jumped back into second place in the Western Conference with 58 points, one point behind conference-leading Vancouver.

"That one had everything," Hitchcock said. "It had some scraps, great goaltending, great goals, lots of funny calls. It was just an old-fashioned Saturday night hockey game. It was a wild event.

"If you came to the arena and watched tonight, for me, you got your money's worth because it had everything."

The Wild, who fell to 0-8-1 in their last nine road games, got goals from David McIntyre -- his first in the NHL -- and Jared Spurgeon.

"If we keep putting in efforts like that, then we're going to give ourselves a great chance," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "That for me was a really impressive effort from our guys tonight. We can talk how they had lots of shots, but they shot a lot of pucks from the outside. I don't want to take anything away from Hards, because he was tremendous in this game tonight, but we went into the building with the team that's got the best record (at home) of the NHL right now (18-3-3) and we gave ourselves a chance to get two points. It came to a shootout and obviously you'd love to get the two points, but when you see guys get into scraps and taking hits to make plays, you give yourself a chance to win. This was very impressive."

It all started when Wild defenseman Justin Falk got into a scrap with Blues captain David Backes after Falk planted a hit on the Blues' David Perron in the first minute of the game.

"Right from the drop of the puck, we weren't going to be pushovers," Falk said. "We went after them hard, we battled hard and did the little things. Guys were making very courageous plays."

Despite dominating the first period in both territorial play and in shots (17-4), the Wild got the lone goal of the first, as McIntyre scored on a transition play 7:13 into the period. The Blues' Patrik Berglund attempted a risky cross-ice feed through traffic to defenseman Roman Polak, who was rushing into the offensive zone on the play. When the pass did not connect, Polak was caught out of position and the Wild came back with numbers, and McIntyre, playing in his fifth career game, poked a Mike Lundin pass past Halak.

At the other end, Harding, who was pulled in a 5-2 loss Thursday at Chicago, was splendid in keeping the Blues off the board. Harding came in 6-2-0 in his career against the Blues with a 1.69 goals-against average and .940 save percentage.

"I wanted to come out and give the team a boost," said Harding. "We wanted to get back to the basics and come up with a good effort. I think we did that.

"It was a real battle in there. They're tough, they come at you and crash the net. How do you bounce back? If you come if you come out and write a bad story, you come back and write a better one."
(Getty Images)
The Blues' T.J. Oshie (right tries to deflect a puck past Minnesota goalie
Josh Harding in Saturday's 3-2 Blues shootout victory over the Wild.

The Blues failed to score a goal in the first period at home for the first time in 11 games and did so without Backes, who was issued 19 minutes in penalties after a fight with Falk. Backes was given five minutes for fighting, a 10-minute misconduct, two minutes for instigating and two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct for starting an altercation with a visor on.

The Wild lost captain Mikko Koivu to an upper-body injury in the first period after playing only 3:44. He did not return after a check by the Blues' Vladimir Sobotka.

The Blues scored two goals in a span of 2:35 in the second to grab a 2-1 lead, with Perron and Pietrangelo doing the honors.

But the Wild, which got its game going in the second period with 17 shots, got the tying goal from Spurgeon, their first in eight games that snapped an 0-for-21 streak, on a shot from the point through traffic that Halak seemed to get a piece of but got in nonetheless at 16:32.

The Blues continued to pepper Harding, but the Wild netminder wouldn't budge ... until the shootout.

"I think for us, we're at a stage to win a game in a shootout is a really good feeling for our team ... almost more exciting than winning it in regulation," Hitchcock said. "I think this is a big weight off of everybody's shoulders. I couldn't believe the difference on the bench when we were shocked we scored a goal, and we were even more shocked when we won. That's as much joy I've seen on a bench for a long time when we won a shootout."

* NOTES -- The Blues got defenseman Barret Jackman (hip) back after missing one game. ... The Blues sent defenseman Cade Fairchild back to Peoria after the game. ... Pietrangelo now has nine points in a career-best six straight games. ... defensemen Kris Russell (groin), Kent Huskins (ankle), Alex Steen (concussion symptoms) and Andy McDonald (concussion) skated Saturday but did not play.

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