Blues' goalie makes 32 saves; St. Louis
redeems itself after blowing three-goal lead Monday
BOSTON -- When the Blues need that big goal, who do they turn to?
It's the easiest answer in the book and obviously the worst-kept secret. But as long as Vladimir Tarasenko dents the twine at the most opportune times, the Blues will gladly accept.
A night after arguably the most gut-wrenching loss of the season, the Blues came back with one of their best against one of the hottest teams in the NHL in their building.
|(St. Louis Blues photo)|
Magnus Paajarvi (56) and Paul Stastny congratulate Vladimir
Tarasenko after he scored in the third period Tuesday at Boston.
Tarasenko broke a scoreless duel with a breakaway goal 7 minutes, 35 seconds into the third period, and Jake Allen made 32 saves with his fifth shutout of the season and 10th of his career in a 2-0 victory against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday at TD Garden.
Allen's fifth shutout ties Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford for the league lead.
The Blues improved to 8-0-0 on the season when tied after two periods.
Tarasenko scored his 22nd of the season, which ties Dallas' Jamie Benn for the NHL lead, after being sprung through the middle of the ice off a feed from Magnus Paajarvi, who got the puck from David Backes inside the Blues' zone. Tarasenko snapped a shot past red-hot Tuukka Rask, who won his past five starts and was 8-0-2.
"It was a really good play by David first. A really good pass by Magnus," Tarasenko said. "I think we're really happy to win this game because Boston is probably one of the hardest teams to play against in this league. We deserved this win and like I said before, give our fans a little bit good mood and good mood for us. And now for everybody, lets celebrate Christmas."
The Blues (21-11-4) talked about pouring it all in after losing a 3-0 lead Monday against the Philadelphia Flyers in a 4-3 defeat. There was one game remaining before a much-needed and much-deserved Christmas break.
It was an all-in mentality.
"Yeah, I think that's obvious," said Paajarvi. "I think it was one of the better road games we've had. Even though they came hard in the first 10, we started creeping in and our game took over more and more. Eventually, it panned out for us. Jake in the net has been unreal for us. He kept us in the game and we kind of took over, I think. We played a really good road game."
Robby Fabbri, who scored for the second straight game, agreed.
"We wanted to play a good 60 minutes and play our way for 60 minutes," Fabbri said. "We knew it was going to be a hard-fought battle. They came out strong and so did we. We saw the more we stuck to our game, the more success we'd have."
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, who came back with Allen on the second of back-to-back games after he made 27 saves Monday, said he'd let everyone know at 9:30 regarding what kind of response his team would have.
"They played a helluva game," Hitchcock said. "Played five of the last six periods about as well as we can play. The second period yesterday was disappointing. We got turned loose on it and responded the way we did today. It was a well-played game by both teams. Both teams really played with a sense of urgency defensively. If you were going to score, it was going to have to be a mistake or it was going to have to be one of those fluky goals. The wrong guy for Boston got the breakaway and made the difference."
The Blues and Bruins (19-10-4) played as if they were playing Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. Not a lot of room, heavy hitting on both sides, minimal Grade A scoring chances and goalies playing like a couple No. 1's.
It took a pinpoint play to break the scoreless duel and it had to be executed perfectly.
"We kind of caught them a little bit on a change," Paajarvi said. "I saw 'Vladi' going in the middle. It was a good heads-up by Backes and I tried getting it as fast as I could to 'Vova' there. Yeah, it was a good play.
"... We talked about if we get a lead, we want to play good. That's what we did tonight. That was huge."
Fabbri took a long stretch pass from Alex Pietrangelo, skated into the Boston zone and wired a wrist shot high glove side from inside the left circle that Rask had no chance of stopping with 7:10 remaining.
"With our 'D,' if you're open, they're going to find you," Fabbri said. "I just went in and wanted to get it on net."
Allen took care of the rest.
He was sharp when called upon and put everything on the line for his team.
"I felt pretty good last night even though we lost and tried to carry that momentum I had last night into tonight and give the boys a chance," Allen said. "It's always tough playing a back-to-back. We (grounded) and we knew we had a couple days off to get the bodies back in shape and the guys did a great job.
"It's a good road game. It's two teams, similar styles, a lot of skill. It was a fun hockey game. Our goal is always to be tied or better after two periods on the road. We did that and great goals by a couple guys. ... Last night we were all-in for about 18 minutes and let the foot off the gas, but tonight, it was a full 60. Got the job done. Goals came in the clutch and now it's time to get away from hockey for a few days and then we get another tough back-to-back to start the break."
"Our goalies are awesome," Tarasenko said. "We need to say huge thanks for Jake and for Ells to keep us in games. This means a lot for us."
Robert Bortuzzo found out at breakfast that he would be inserted into the lineup and made a huge impact on the blue line playing with rookie Joel Edmundson in 13:33 of time on ice.
Bortuzzo, who was a healthy scratch in nine straight games and 11 of the past 12, led the Blues with seven hits. He played in place of Carl Gunnarsson, who was scratched as a precaution after the hit he took to his left arm/wrist area in the first period Monday despite returning for the second and finishing the game.
"We're confident in our ability to come in and contribute," Bortuzzo said. "It's never easy when you have to take some time off like that. But staying mentally prepared and physically prepared is a big part of it. I'm working with coaches and whatnot. I'm just staying ready because a night like this, you can come in and contribute, so we're real happy to do that.
"It's nice to get a little day before preparation because there's parts of preparation that go into that, but like I said, we're always going to be ready when called upon. I'm confident in our ability to contribute. It's a big win for our hockey team tonight. Jake was solid as usual and the boys really grounded it out tonight."
When asked what Bortuzzo brought to the lineup, Hitchcock said, "A lot of energy and a lot of good play. I think we've got to rethink that one a little bit down the road here."
|(St. Louis Blues photo)|
Colton Parayko congratulates teammate Jake Allen after the Blues' goalie
shut out the Boston Bruins 2-0 on Tuesday at TD Garden.
And when asked about the tie-breaking goal, Hitchcock had all the praise for the primary assist player.
"The guy that's gone unnoticed here is probably the guy that's playing the best hockey for us right now is Paajarvi," Hitchcock said. "Never mind the best I've seen him play. He looks like a heck of a hockey player in the National Hockey League right now. The way he's playing, he just looks like a heck of a player in the National Hockey League. If this is the tempo and the pace and the game that he's going to bring forward, he's going to be a valuable player for us the rest of this year."
Blues came in 0-3 and outscored 10-3 last three games in second of back to backs. They returned to St. Louis early Wednesday morning with a good feeling.
"All the away games are really hard," Tarasenko said. "We deserved this win and we had one of the best games of the season."