Sunday, November 10, 2013

Blues slip past Penguins on third-period goal

Shattenkirk's first of the season proves to be
game-winner; Reaves scores, Halak stops 19 shots

ST. LOUIS -- When Kevin Shattenkirk wakes up Sunday morning, there might still be some doubt whether he has his first goal of the season.

Vladimir Tarasenko, who said after the game he didn't know if he got a stick on Shattenkirk's wrister from the right point or not, might stake claim to the goal that beat the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday night, but one thing won't change: the score.

That final outcome will still read Blues 2, Penguins 1. They'll still be two huge points for the Blues, who improved to 11-2-2, tied the best start in franchise history and gave the Blues 11 wins in 15 games, which was last accomplished in 2003-04.

(St. Louis Blues/Mark Buckner)
Blues players celebrate a goal by Ryan Reaves (second from left) in the
second period of a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday.
Shattenkirk, who extended his career-best points streak to eight games (one goal, eight assists), gets a point for the game-winner one way or another. And more importantly, helped the Blues to their sixth win in seven tries and keeps them in a tight fight in the rugged Western Conference.

"We'll see when we wake up tomorrow," Shattenkirk said. "Either way, it was a good effort there by everyone to open up that opportunity. I think the hard work that we had through the entire third period is what led to that goal."

The goal, as it stands, also backed up Shattenkirk's claim that a goal off his stick was coming.

"That's what he said every day," Barret Jackman, who assisted on the goal, joked about his defensive partner. "Eventually he was going to be right.

"He sticks with it. He's a very positive guy. He's very smart. He knew it was a matter of time. He keeps saying it every morning, so eventually he was going to get it right."

Added Shattenkirk, who was afraid to speak to the media following Jackman: "One out of 15 ... if you just keep saying you're going to score, it's going to go in."

Shattenkirk's wrist shot from the right point found its way into the back of the net with 9 minutes, 8 seconds to play in the game.

Shattenkirk, who had eight assists in the last seven games, took a pass from Jackman and fired a shot past a screened Marc-Andre Fleury that the Penguins goalie got a piece of but squirted into the net with Tarasenko setting a screen.

"That's kind of my thought process," Shattenkirk said. "As you get that puck and you're fading away, you know you're not going to get much on the shot, and when you see bodies going to the net, it's almost just throw it at the net and see if you can create some sort of battle that hopefully that we can win. With the way our team's built, we like to shoot pucks and go to the net and most of the time, good things happen.

"It was a great play. Our forwards did a great job keeping the puck alive. Get a D-to-D pass from Jacks and throw it to the net. We still don't know. We think someone might have tipped it, but for now, I'll take it."

Ryan Reaves scored for the Blues and jump-started the crowd with a fight three seconds into the game, and Jaroslav Halak stopped 19 shots to improve to 9-2-1 on the season.

The victory was the Blues' first in regulation against the Penguins since winning 4-1 Dec. 19, 2006 in Pittsburgh.

The Blues held Sidney Crosby, the League's leading scorer, without a point. Crosby has been held without a point four times this season and two straight games and he remains goalless against the Blues in seven career games. The Blues are one of four teams -- San Jose, Chicago and Edmonton are the others -- that Crosby hasn't scored on in his career.

"They didn't have the puck as much as they wanted," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said, referring to Pittsburgh's top players. "I think any time we can negate the other team's top line, we give ourselves a chance.

"There was not a lot of room, not a lot of space. Both teams, I think, sniffed out halfway through the hockey game that this was going to be a close, hard-fought game."

Jussi Jokinen scored for the Penguins and Fleury stopped 30 shots as the Penguins have dropped two straight after a four-game winning streak. The 20 shots were the fewest for Pittsburgh this season.

"It was an unreal team win," said center Maxim Lapierre, who assisted on Reaves' goal. "We knew it would be a real challenge for us against an unreal team. I think we're proud of ourselves."

Reaves gave the Blues a 1-0 lead when he was able to drive the net and redirect Lapierre's centering feed after a Penguins turnover 2:52 into the game. Reaves now has 11 career goals. Alexander Steen also had an assist on the goal, which extended his career-best scoring streak to 10 games. It was Steen's 21st point of the season, which ranks him among the league leaders.

"I don't think anybody really knew I was coming on ice," Reaves said. "It was kind of a late change and he had some good patience to see me backdoor. It was a great pass.

"I was just kind of getting on the ice. Lappy kind of pulled up and saw me and it was sauce backdoor. What can you say?"

The Penguins were able to tie the game 1-1 when Jokinen parked himself in the slot and redirected Evgeni Malkin's centering feed from the right circle past Halak on Pittsburgh's first power play 8:06 into the second period. It was Jokinen's third goal in five games. James Neal, who missed 15 games with an upper-body injury, had an assist on the goal for his first point of the season.

The Blues had killed off 16 straight power plays prior to Jokinen's goal.

Crosby had a chance with 25 seconds left in the second period but missed on an open deflection on the Penguins' second power play of the game.

There was plenty of action in a scoreless first period.

Reaves and the Penguins' Deryk Engelland delighted the crowd and kicked things off with a fight three seconds into the game before each team had strong scoring chances as the period progressed.

"I felt like I had to get the crowd into it early," Reaves said. "I had a tough game last game, not very physical. I kind of brought that on myself to get the boys going. When I got that start against them, it was an easy decision.

"He looked at me and I was ready to go. That's what I was hoping for."

Shattenkirk's one-timer from the right circle was stopped by Fleury after a feed from the left boards by Vladimir Sobotka with 14:27 left in the first period, and Chris Stewart missed a backhand redirection off a Patrik Berglund pass with 8:33 remaining in the first.

(St. Louis Blues/Mark Buckner)
Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak (right) seals off the goal in front of Penguins
center Sidney Crosby Saturday night.
Halak came up with a pair of strong saves for the Blues in the first period, first kicking out Chris Kunitz's one-time snap shot from the low slot after Crosby's no-look pass with 10:17 remaining. Halak then made a save with his right arm on Crosby speeding in alone from the left side after a giveaway by T.J. Oshie in the Penguins zone with 3:45 remaining in the period.

Fleury preserved a 1-1 tie when he was able to stop Oshie in tight after Steen found his linemate in the slot with 16:15 remaining in the game. Fleury then robbed David Backes' one-timer with 10:45 remaining after an Oshie feed from behind the net to keep it a 1-1 game.

Fleury's glove save on Steen with 5:14 remaining off a 2-on-1 kept it a 2-1 game.

The Blues had great chances to salt the game late, but Shattenkirk's seemingly harmless wrister speaks volumes and reaffirms one point: putting pucks towards the net brings forth good results.

"If that's the case, it's game-winners and we'll take them," Shattenkirk said.

* NOTES -- The Blues are an NHL-best 29-8-5 vs. Eastern Conference teams dating back to the 2010-11 season. They are plus-43 in that span. ... The Blues are 9-3-2 vs. the Penguins dating to the 2000-01 season, including 6-1-1 on home ice. ... The Blues are 6-0-2 in one-goal games. ... The Blues have scored the first goal in seven straight games and 12 of 15 games this season. They have won 10 of those, which matches Colorado for the most in the NHL. ... The Penguins are 11-2 when Crosby notches a point, 0-4 when he doesn't.

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