Friday, January 30, 2015

Shattenkirk nets another shootout winner, Blues top Canes 3-2

Defenseman scores game-winner on 
back-to-back nights; team is 2-0-0 with fathers in attendance

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Kevin Shattenkirk was on the Blues' bench trying to catch his breath.

The Blues' defenseman had just finished a final shift in overtime when coach Ken Hitchcock tapped him on the shoulder.

He was second in line in the shootout to T.J. Oshie, and once again, Shattenkirk was money in the bank for the Blues.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Kevin Shattenkirk celebrates with teammates after scoring in a shootout
Friday night against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Shattenkirk's goal in the shootout proved to be all Jake Allen would need in goal since the Carolina Hurricanes couldn't beat the Blues' goalie in a 3-2 St. Louis victory Friday night at PNC Arena.

"I was just catching my breath, too, from that last shift," Shattenkirk said. "When (Hitchcock) told me I had to go, I was just trying to fight for air on the bench and then watch 'Osh' go and try to get some sort of idea of what I was going to do. I was obviously happy, happy to help and glad he called me. Obviously you want to go out there and score every time."

Shattenkirk, who also won the shootout for the Blues (31-13-4) on Thursday night against the Nashville Predators, is now 7-for-15 for his career. Six of them have been game-deciding goals.

"I just watched Osh go and make his move," Shattenkirk said. "He beat him on the move, just wasn't able to tuck that backhand in. It sailed a little on him. I just came down, started the same way and I tried to look to shoot. If it's there, I go for it, so luckily, it just kind of surprised (Carolina goalie Cam Ward) a little bit."

Hitchcock normally uses a rotation of Oshie, Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen. He wanted to reward Shattenkirk.

The Blues, 6-2 in shootouts this season, didn't need a third shooter after Allen ended it by stopping Eric Staal on Carolina's third attempt.

"He's scoring," Hitchcock said of Shattenkirk. "He's scoring at practice, scoring in the games. Took advantage of it. 

"He's lighting it up every day after practice. We watched that closely, and I get good evaluation on it from the coaches, too."

The Blues, who are 9-0-1 in the past 10 games, are now 2-0-0 under the watchful eyes of their dads, who were in attendance Thursday and 17 of them accompanied their sons on the trip.

"It's nice when you have them up there; they're watching. It's something we have to make sure we're making them proud. We were joking around before the game that you don't want to get in the car and have your dad go silent on you or tell you that you didn't give it your best."

Ward took the loss for the Hurricanes, who are 17-25-6 overall but 7-2-2 in their past 11. Ward stopped all 29 shots faced in regulation and overtime after replacing starter Anton Khudobin, who was lifted after allowing two goals on three shots in the first 3 minutes, 25 seconds.

Even after playing Thursday night, even after a draining divisional game, even after a shootout, even after flying and losing an hour traveling east and getting in at 2:30 a.m., it was the Blues that had the early bite, and of course the early jump.

Reaves' second goal in as many days, off a backhand feed from Steve Ott, who got it from Marcel Goc, put the Blues up 1-0 1:48 into the game. Reaves got the puck in the left circle and wired a wrister top shelf past Khudobin.

It was Reaves' third goal in three games with his father Willard in attendance. He scored twice in a game with his mother watching.

"I'm always trying to impress the parents," said Reaves, who scored Thursday against Nashville. "I scored two years ago, two in front of my mom, so I figured I'd do it in front of my dad."

Was this snipe better that the one Thursday?

"It might," Reaves joked. "I think that one (Friday) had a little better sound to it. The other one was more of a thud. This one had a nice little ring to it. It was nice. A perfect pass by Otter. I don't think if that pass is in stride on my tape, I don't think I get it off as good. Great play by 'Otter' and 'Gocher' as well."

The Blues kept up the pressure, as Backes made it 2-0 3:25 into the game that chased Khudobin after three shots faced.

Alex Pietrangelo was in the corner and found Backes at the top of the right circle, and his wrister chased Khudobin in favor of Ward.

"I think that's the story. They were waiting for us and we were in the swing of things to start," Backes said. "Two-nothing, goalie change after three minutes. You don't see that a lot, but it seemed to light a fire into their camp and they came out a lot harder and made a push. Jake played really well and kept us in there as our legs started to die out in the third. He made some big saves, got to the shootout, but he was perfect and gave us a chance and Shatty with another great shootout goal."

The Blues had a 6-0 edge in shots to start the game, and although it took the Hurricanes a while to get their legs underneath them, they were finally able to get some life. Faulk's wrister had eyes and beat Allen through traffic in front 10:57 into the first period on their first shot of the game off a feed from former Blue Jay McClement.

Once Carolina scored, the Hurricanes seemed to find their bearings and switched the momentum. They got the equalizer in the second period on Ryan Murphy's first goal of the season, a shot that deflected off Backes and past Allen with 5:41 left in the second period to tie the game 2-2.

"The thing that helped Carolina was the change of the goalie," Hitchcock said. "They hit the reset button, then we had the two shifts where we hit the goal post and missed the empty net. Otherwise, it's three- or four-nothing. 

"Even in the third period, this is a lot of hockey to get played in a short period of time out of the break. We out-chanced them badly in the third period. I thought we played a smart third period. Even though we took it to a shootout, this was a game we deserved to win. ... It was a good, solid road period by a team playing on a back-to-back. This is a big game to win. You play back-to-back, our record was only two games over .500 on the road. To start off the second half of the season and win a big road game like this is important. The guys deserve a lot of credit."

Reaves almost put the Blues ahead after getting a feathery feed from Goc, but Ward closed the pads to make the save with 9:10 left. 
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Ryan Reaves (75) celebrates after scoring in the first period of the Blues'
3-2 shootout victory against the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night.

It almost turned into disaster for the Blues when Carolina's Jeff Skinner flipped a puck towards Allen harmlessly. But the puck took a strange carom towards the Blues' goalie from his right. Allen lost sight of the puck and it hit the post with 6:31 to play.

"This rink, even (Brian Elliott) said the same thing. The seats are so dark. As soon as the puck gets flipped up in the air, I lost it like five or six times in the game before that," Allen said. "I had no sweet clue at all where that thing was. I thought it was in the corner. I sort of probably should have made a move at it, but I might have kicked it in my net. It's just one of those rinks that the seats are so dark, flip the puck up and I literally had no idea where it was."

The game stayed tied and the Blues moved on to the nation's capital and will play the Washington Capitals on Sunday at noon before heading home.

They'll spend Saturday with their dads, including a visit to the White House.

"It's the greatest thing," Backes said. "They got a little bit of the initiation by getting into the hotel at 3 a.m. (Thursday) night and trying to fall asleep, wake up and try to be productive today. One more and we would make it a phenomenal father's trip. Hopefully it'll be on the docket every year after this because your dads, your parents sacrifice so much to get you to this level that you give them a little glimpse into how you live and they've enjoyed it."

* NOTES -- Ty Rattie made his Blues debut this season on Friday when he was recalled to play after Patrik Berglund and Jori Lehtera both missed the game with upper-body injuries.

"He was OK. First game back," Hitchcock said of Rattie, who played 9:01 on a line with Joakim Lindstrom and Dmitrij Jaskin. "This is a full day for him. He starts at six in the morning getting his gear (in Chicago) and then he plays tonight. It's a long day for him. He'll be a lot better on Sunday."

Rattie is expected to play Sunday also because Hitchcock doesn't expect Berglund and Lehtera to play.

"I don't think either one of the guys are ready yet, so we'll see on both guys here later on," Hitchcock said. "Right now, I'll say yeah, (Rattie's) going to play."

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