Goalie stops 26 shots, Gomez nets first goal with Blues in victory
ST. LOUIS -- Jake Allen and Ben Bishop are the best of friends from their days of bus rides and long hours of playing in the American Hockey League together after being drafted by the Blues.
But going into Tuesday night's showdown, the first where Allen and Bishop would face one another, both wanted to get the best of the other.
Allen, who came in with a 3.02 goals-against average and .899 save percentage, felt all along that his play this season hasn't been bad; he had some bad bounces go against him.
|(St. Louis Blues photo)|
Goalie Jake Allen extends to make a save on Lightning's Ondrej Palat en
route to a 26-save shutout Tuesday in a 2-0 Blues victory.
Allen got the best of the first encounter with Bishop after making 26 saves, and Scott Gomez scored his first goal for the Blues in a 2-0 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Scottrade Center.
Allen and Bishop played together from 2010-12 with the now-defunct Peoria Rivermen before Bishop, a St. Louis native who made 22 saves, was traded in 2013.
Getting a shutout made it even sweeter for Allen.
"A shutout always makes it a little bit better, but we got the win and I thought he played really well too," Allen said. "It was a good battle by both teams. It was a close game. We got some chances both ways but nothing major. Guys played well.
"... It was just good to get back in the game. I think between my starts, I've had almost 5-7 days between starts, so it’s nice to get back in and first game at home is always fun. It was a tough test for us. We lost two in a row I guess you could say, got one point in the other game, and we needed to bounce back and finish off this homestand right."
Bishop gave credit where credit was due.
"He played really well," Bishop said of Allen. "We came up a little short but it was a pretty good game. He's a good friend and I'm sure I will hear it until the next game. I’ve got to get the next one. Hopefully we can do it again."
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock credited his goalie, but also called the Blues' ability to keep the Lightning from making clean exits out of their zone effective.
"Our goalie was good," Hitchcock said. "... He was solid all night. He was out on top of the crease, he was aggressive. It was good to see, real good to see.
"... I think the big thing for us is to play them, we just can't let them out clean, and when you let them out clean, they get loose. They've got so much continuity and so much speed in their team, they can really take advantage of it. I thought both teams played hard today. We got the lead so it was an advantage for us with the way we're built right now, but I thought both teams played really hard today."
Troy Brouwer scored an empty-net goal for the Blues (6-2-1), who have won six of seven against the Lightning and four straight against them here.
Brouwer, played on a line with Gomez and rookie Robby Fabbri, who returned after missing six games with a concussion. The unit was arguably the Blues' most effective line.
"I thought Fabbri was dangerous all night," Hitchcock said. "He was hungry, he had four or five quality scoring opportunities, I thought he was jumping into holes, he got more and more comfortable as the game went on.
"I thought the line looked good. It looked like a line that was dangerous offensively, which is exactly what we needed to get going with here. These are great wins, and there's going to be some of these down the line, but we're going to have to keep manufacturing it. So any bonus we get from a line that can augment some offensive opportunities is really going to help us. They gave us a good boost today."
Brouwer said the Blues haven't alleviated from their game even missing a plethora of injured key pieces. Everyone has to pick their game up.
"Even with the guys that are out, how skilled they are, we want to play the same style of game," Brouwer said. "When we get away from that, that's when we get ourselves in trouble. You've heard Hitch say, 'A heavy game,' a lot, and that's what we're still trying to do. We're trying to outhit the team, trying to pin them in their zone as much as possible, especially against a team like tonight where they have such skilled forwards who want to puck up the puck and go. We've got to try and slow their attack down and I thought we, for the most part, did a good job of that. We got hemmed in our zone because of their movement and their familiarity, but I thought we battled through it and we kept them to the outside."
The Lightning (5-3-2), who ended a four-game trip 1-1-2, have been shut out the past 120:17. They lost 1-0 in overtime against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.
"When you need one (goal), you’ve got to find a way to get it and we’re having trouble doing that," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "It seems like the net is shrinking a little bit and we hit a post. Teams go through this but had a couple of good defensive efforts.
"We led the League in scoring last year. At some point it will all even out."
Gomez's goal was his 43rd point against the Lightning. He was parked in front of Bishop and redirected Colton Parayko's wrist shot from the blue line at 15:59 of the first period.
It was Parayko's fourth point in the past four games (one goal, three assists), and the third time in nine games the Blues scored first.
"No matter what level you’re at, it’s always nice to get a goal out of the way," Gomez said. "Most importantly though, we got the win. That’s a good hockey club over there, so we’ll enjoy this for a bit and go right at the next one.
|(St. Louis Blues photo)|
Defenseman Colton Parayko (right) battles with Lightning defenseman
Victor Hedman for position during the Blues' 2-0 victory Tuesday.
"I kind of got lucky and the kid (Parayko) put it in the right place and I just tipped it down and beat Bishop, and that’s not easy to do. Give the kid credit. He saw it, he saw me get in that spot and he got it on net."
Allen's best save came in the first period when he denied Nikita Kucherov's wrist shot from the slot. But his ability to pick his spots challenging the dangerous Lightning forwards put him in a comfort zone all night.
"They always have that extra threat," Allen said. "If you over-challenge sometimes, which the way I play sometimes I do, there always is that back-door play or that extra guy waiting that some other teams don’t usually go to and they can make you look silly, but you definitely have to realize when they are going to shoot or they are going to pass and be patient."