Monday, December 29, 2014

Marty rules the roost in 3-0 victory against Avalanche

Brodeur's 125th NHL shutout, 691st victory helps Blues stop 
losing slide; Jaskin solid, Butler scores first goal as Blue in hometown

ST. LOUIS -- If this was Martin Brodeur's last game with the Blues, or any other NHL team for that matter, the future Hall of Famer might as well add to his illustrious list of records.

But judging by Brodeur's 16-save shutout, the 125th of his NHL career, the Blues' 3-0 shutout victory against the Colorado Avalanche wasn't his last time between the pipes.

"I think I'm going to Nashville, I'm not sure," Brodeur joked, referring to the Blues' opponent on Tuesday. "I'm enjoying every moment of it. Whenever the decision will be made, hopefully I'll be the first to know and I'll be happy or disappointed one way or the other. It's been a great ride. If that's my last game, it's not a bad one to leave on."
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues goalie Martin Brodeur makes one of his 16 saves en route to the
125th shutout of his NHL career in a 3-0 victory vs. Colorado on Monday.

Brodeur moved one step closer to 700 victories with No. 691, his first shutout since Dec. 14, 2013. He added to his NHL record for shutouts with his first with the Blues. His prior start against the Avalanche, on March 15, 2012 with the New Jersey Devils, also was a shutout. He has stopped 54 consecutive shots against the Avalanche (13-15-8).

Per Elias, Brodeur (42 years, 237 days) is the oldest goalie to record a shutout since Dominik Hasek (43 years, 61 days) on Mar. 30, 2008.

"I appreciate them all," Brodeur said of the shutout. "This one is in the new organization. This is the first one with the Blues. It definitely means a lot to me. 

"The way we played today, you play so well, you deserve to be rewarded defensively. It's our job as goaltenders not to give up anything. It wasn't the hardest game to play, but you've still got to make the saves out there."

The Blues (22-11-3), who travel to play the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, got a goal each from Dmitrij Jaskin, Chris Butler and Vladimir Tarasenko. Former Avalanche center Paul Stastny had two assists, his first points against his former team since signing with the Blues as a free agent this summer.

"We're getting engaged," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Starting to look and act like a team. Starting to behave properly, good things, started showing signs the last game. We've had real pockets of it. 

"If you go back on the road trip, two great pockets in L.A. Great pocket in San Jose. You really gotta throw out the Colorado game (on Dec. 23). I think every coach probably throws out four games a year, that's one of them. Come back and play really well, but still got big errors in the Dallas game (Saturday) and then really solid today. We're building and moving in the right direction and starting to look and act like a cohesive unit hopefully."

The Avalanche, who shut out the Blues 5-0 at home on Dec. 23, got 22 saves from Semyon Varlamov. They've been shut out six times this season.

"A shutout is a shutout and you have to make some saves but I thought maybe it was one of (Brodeur's) easiest ones," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said.  

Jaskin gave the Blues a 1-0 lead when Stastny picked off Varlamov's clearing attempt along the boards. He fed Jaskin in the slot, and the left wing flipped a shot harmlessly past former Blues defenseman Erik Johnson and through Varlamov's pads 28 seconds into the second period.

"He always sees me," Jaskin said of Stastny. "He's a great player. ... He just put it in there. I just tried to get it through. Shot ended up in the net."

Jaskin finished with a career-best 15:27 of ice time and it's becoming clear that he's finally finding his niche, especially playing with Stastny and new linemate: Ryan Reaves.

"That's exactly the type of game that I have to play," Jaskin said. "I have to play hard, physical, go to smart places. With Stas and Revo, it was perfect tonight."

Hitchcock has balked at pumping up Jaskin publicly recently but had no choice but to do so Monday.

"You can really screw young kids up," Hitchcock said. "He's having fun playing hockey. We've had him up, bounced around because we really haven't had a spot. We've got a spot (now). We just want to keep it real simple for him and just keep him playing with his instincts. I think what you're seeing now is a player that's starting to emerge as an offensive threat with real weight and size. For him, when you talk to him, the game isn't nearly as fast as it was when he first came up. Now he's starting to really look like a really good offensive player."

Butler, from the suburb of Kirkwood, Mo., scored his first goal with the Blues when he took T.J. Oshie's drop pass along the left boards, skated to the front of the net and lifted a backhand over Varlamov's right shoulder at the near post 4:30 into the second for a 2-0 lead.

"We had a long shift in their zone," Butler said. "I knew that they were kind of tired. I think (Oshie) was coming off the wall there. Their forward just kind of watched him, so I just tried to jump down and turn the corner. Luckily we had a lot of space and I kind of realized I was either going to shoot it or try and go through Brad Stuart. I kind of like my first option a little better.

"Never really thought about it too much, but that was a nice one to get. It's maybe a bit of a relief and hopefully we can pile on a few more going forward."

Tarasenko's team-leading 22nd goal (a career high) came after the Avalanche couldn't clear a puck in the slot, and his wrist shot beat Varlamov with 4:35 remaining in the game. It was Tarasenko's 10th goal and 16th point in the past 14 games.

Brodeur was called upon to make his best saves after a Barret Jackman giveaway in the first period. He stopped Marc-Andre Cliche's long-range shot and the rebound on Nick Holden coming in off the left side 6:17 into the game.

Those were the types of saves the Blues had been missing in the recent stretch of games. They seemed to fuel them moving forward.

"Those are the saves you need to make, especially when you play a team that plays well defensively," Brodeur said. "Sometimes that one save makes a big difference. Definitely I gave up a big rebound. I was able to come across and make a save. I think from there, it settled the game down a little better for us."

Hitchcock agreed.

"Three real good ones early," Hitchcock said. "We gave them a couple from the red tees there early and he made the big saves. I think everybody got excited. A little bit of debris from the last game. 

"The disappointment was there in the first period and once we got that first goal, the whole disposition of the team, we got back on our toes, stayed on our toes and played that way the whole rest of the night. I think Colorado got our worst, and then they got our best. They got our worst just before Christmas, and then they got our best today."

The sellout crowd of 19,749 began their chants of 'MARTY! MARTY! MARTY!' with roughly 7:30 remaining in the game and didn't stop until well after the game was over.

"They kind of chanted a little early for me," Brodeur said of the crowd. "When you're working on the shutout, you're kind of like, 'Ah, not trying to think about things like that.' But it's nice to be appreciated by the people you play in front of most of the nights. These are all fun things for me to be a part of."

"He was awesome tonight," Butler said of Brodeur. "I think he's gotten more comfortable here. He's been a tremendous teammate. For a guy with his credentials and his resume coming in here, he jelled right away and he fit in with the guys. Tonight was an awesome performance by him."

Brodeur, who has had long rivalries with Roy, was thinking whether he'd get the chance to at an empty-net goal late.

"I thought about it," Brodeur said. "It was like three minutes left and maybe [Roy] was going to do it. Usually he loves to do it, but maybe he was a little afraid."

But with another victory, Brodeur pockets $20,000 as part of the incentives for each victory he gets in goal with the Blues. Do shutouts earn more?

"I forgot about that one," Brodeur joked.

Blues forward Chris Porter sustained a lower-body injury 6:30 into the second period. He went to finish a check on Holden, the two got tangled up, and Porter went down awkwardly on his left leg. He needed to be helped off the ice.

Hitchcock said Porter will be lost a minimum of six weeks and will be reevaluated at that time.

"We'll evaluate him in six weeks, see where he's at," Hitchcock said of Porter. "A tough injury. Really unfortunate. He was playing really well for us, but hopefully we'll get some help here in the not too distant future from Schwartz obviously and we'll see what Doug wants to do with tweaking the roster here."

The Blues got back to their dominant form of checking, winning puck battles and controlling all three zones. 
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues winger Dmitrij Jaskin (23) fends off Avs defenseman Brad Stuart off
the puck Monday night. Jaskin scored in the Blues' 3-0 victory.

Brodeur sure noticed. He called it the team's best game.

"In front of me, for sure," Brodeur said. "We blocked shots, we were tough in our own zone, we didn't turn the puck over too many times. Maybe a little bit early in the first period, but after that, we just dominated. When we've got the lead, we played like we had the lead. We didn't sit back, we had a lot of great chances to get ahead even more goals. That was a pretty good game.

"We were physical. I thought our physicality took over the game in the second period. In the first period, we were so-so. They outshot us, I think 8-5, but i think from there, we played hard and we stayed out of the box. That's a great combination for success."

"We did a good job managing the puck in the neutral zone," Butler said. "We played fast, we played physical, we spent a lot of time in the offensive zone. And you see over the course of the game how hard those minutes are for the other teams to play when we're cycling the puck, when we're checking hard, when we're on it all night long. It wears on teams. That's the way we need to continue to play going forward."

No comments:

Post a Comment