Saturday, October 31, 2015

Backes' two goals, including game-winner in OT helps Blues down Wild 3-2

Team is 3-0-1 during five-game homestand; captain's goals are first two of season

ST. LOUIS -- Being part of the competition committee that helped implement the 3-on-3 overtime system, St. Louis Blues captain David Backes appreciates the new format even more.

Backes scored his first two goals of the season, including the game-winner in overtime with 33.6 seconds remaining to give the Blues a 3-2 victory against the Minnesota Wild at Scottrade Center on Saturday.

Backes took a pass from Ty Rattie as he was entering the Minnesota zone, cut to the high slot and beat goalie Devan Dubnyk with a high wrist shot.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
David Backes (left) is all smiles after scoring the game-winning goal in
overtime to defeat the Minnesota Wild 3-2 Saturday night.

"Yeah, it's not so bad now," Backes said laughing, referring to the 3-on-3. "Its one of those things where you're gutting it out after 60 minutes and it's a good hockey game and you're trying to find a way. They had a chance, Jake (Allen) makes a save and then it's 2-on-2 and I'm late joining the rush. (Jay Bouwmeester) drives the middle, takes everyone back; 'Rats' finds me late and close your eyes and shoot it hard and find the back of the net. 

"Gotta give a little credit to (assistant equipment manager) Joel Farnsworth. Got me some new gloves before overtime. A little tighter, a little harder shot, I think with them. We'll credit that."

Minnesota had a chance at the other end before the Blues scored, and Rattie actually knocked the Wild's Zach Parise down at the side of the Blues' goal that created the odd-man rush for the Blues. Rattie patiently waited for Backes to get into the zone before flipping him the puck.

"I could tell Backes was on his way," Rattie said. "I knew Parise fell down. The whole bench was yelling at me, so I kind of just laid it in there. Heck of a shot by 'DB' there and kind of fitting that he finished it off for us.

"The whole bench was yelling. Revo was right in my ear there. I just had one thing on my mind: give it to 'DB' and he did the rest."

Backes credited Rattie for patiently waiting.

"If you try to force it to the net or (Dubnyk) control the rebound, it's a 2-on-1 back the other way," Backes said. "He does a great job of controlling it, finding me. I think the bench is yelling at him there's a guy coming late and we had an odd-man rush. I think the key is 'Bouw' is driving the net to keep them honest and drive them back and I can wind up and let it rip."

Alexander Steen scored for the Blues (8-2-1), who are 3-0-1 on a five-game homestand. Allen made 29 saves.

"Good jump in the first; I thought we came out with a real strong start," Steen said. "A few little mishaps, puck bounces and that happens and they're right back in the game. After that, I think both teams had good opportunities to score, but couldn't put it in. 'Backs' got a big one in OT there."

Jason Zucker and Erik Haula scored for the Wild (7-2-2). Dubnyk made 23 saves.

Minnesota took three of four points in back-to-back games against the Chicago Blackhawks and Blues, even after falling behind 2-0.

"We've done a pretty good job of that this year coming back when we've been down early," Parise said. "Starts have kind of hurt us a little bit this year, but we've been able to climb back into games and we did that again tonight. I thought we had a really good chance to win it too." 

The Blues grabbed a 2-0 lead before the Wild scored two late first-period goals to tie it up. 

Backes' first goal in 11 games, his longest stretch to start a season without a goal, put the Blues ahead 1-0 on a 52-foot shot Dubnyk couldn't handle 2:47 into the first. The shot deflected off defenseman Marco Scandella's stick.

"Off a D's stick and it finds a way," Backes said. "I felt I had a lot more jump and confidence after that making plays through the game."

Steen put the Blues ahead 2-0 after he picked off Mikko Koivu's outlet pass inside the Wild zone, skated to his left and beat Dubnyk top shelf at 8:40 to make it 2-0.

"Jori (Lehtera) and (Scottie Upshall) put a lot of great pressure on Minny," Steen said. "For me, it was just a read and I kind of backed out, took a couple steps to the left and (Koivu) hit me. After that, as soon as they turned it over, I was looking at Uppy for a long, long time and I thought I had taken the angle away from myself almost looking for him. Found a little spot. That was nice."

But Minnesota, which was coming off a 5-4 home victory against the Blackhawks on Friday, stormed back to tie on goals by Zucker and Haula. 

Zucker, who made it 2-1 a point in his seventh straight game, took Ryan Suter's outlet pass, beat rookie defenseman Colton Parayko up the left side and beat Allen glove side, top shelf with a wrist shot at 15:14. 

Haula's first of the season came off a Blues defensive zone turnover. Haula took a pass from Thomas Vanek, who extended his point streak to seven games, and beat Allen from the slot with 42.3 seconds left in the period. 

"It was great," Zucker said. "We had a  lot of guys step up and started playing well. That fourth line really played great. They kind of changed the tempo card, stepped in there and obviously they scored after the fight." 

The Wild thought they had a goal with 2:27 remaining in the first period from Zach Parise, but after a review, the goal was waved off because of a distinct kicking motion. 
(St. Louis Blues photo)
The Blues' Ty Rattie (18) battles for the puck with Minnesota
defenseman Marco Scandella Saturday night.

The Blues' penalty killing unit was solid in the second period. The Wild had a two-man advantage for 1:02 but could only manage one shot on goal. 

The Blues got their first power play of the game with 3:01 left in the second but they couldn't score and extended their power play drought to 17 straight. They are 1-for-29.

The teams traded scoring chances in the final two periods after a four-goal first before Allen made a crucial save on Mikael Granlund in overtime before the Blue won it.

"It's absolute chaos," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said, describing the 3-on-3. "You don't know what's going to go on. I think it's something if we talk it over and we have a good strategy ... I think we can control it and we'd be a lot more effective because right now it's just chaos. Fun for the fans. 

"We might as well just leave the bench as coaches because we don't know what the hell is going on."

(10-31-15) Wild-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Add Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko to the team's laundry list of injuries.

Tarasenko will not play when the Blues (7-2-1) oppose the Central Division rival Minnesota Wild (7-2-1) on Saturday (7 p.m. on FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM).

Tarasenko sustained a left leg injury in a 2-1 victory Thursday against the Anaheim Ducks with four minutes remaining following a check by the Ducks' Shawn Horcoff. Tarasenko missed the remainder of the period but returned in the third.

Tarasenko, who leads the Blues in goals (six) and points (10) was in street cloths during the morning skate Saturday. He indicated that he was fine after the game Thursday but missed an optional skate on Friday.

"No, he's not going to play tonight," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "... We weren't sure later in the day yesterday on Vladi, but we still held out hope that he was going to play."

Hitchcock didn't seem concerned that Tarasenko, who had a knee-to-knee collision with Horcoff after the Ducks center tried to check him, would be out for a prolonged period of time.

"He's out for the month of October," Hitchcock playfully said. "... When November turns, we'll let you know on that one."

Troy Brouwer, who was acquired in the off-season from the Washington Capitals, skated on the Blues' top line Saturday morning with Alexander Steen and Jori Lehtera. But Hitchcock cautioned, "Don't go on what you saw today because it's going to move around. The whole right side's going to move around the whole game. Brouwer is going to come out with (David) Backes sometimes, he's going to come out with Lehtera sometimes. We're going to punch (Ty) Rattie up there sometimes. 

"I would say the only thing that would be consistent, we'll start the game with (Dmitrij) Jaskin on the right side with (Scott) Gomez. That's the only constant on that right side right now."

Brouwer, who's played on lines in the past with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom in Washington and Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane in Chicago before that, joked that he won't turn Steen and Lehtera in to something they're not.

"I've obviously got to make sure that they're not trying to play a grinder game like me," Brouwer said, "which means they need the puck. That means I've got to work just as hard, if not harder, to try and make sure they're getting the puck. When it's me and 'DB,' we're similar players who want to do similar things. I've got to definitely be aware of what makes them successful and continue to do that.

"... All throughout the entire season, I've worked my way up and down the lineup. Vladi's the only I actually haven't played with so far. It's just another game for me. I know how those guys play, I know how they want to play. I feel like I'm a very good complementing player regardless of who I'm playing with. Every team that I've played on, I've had the opportunity to play with the top players."

Steve Ott got active after Tarasenko was injured and even fought the Ducks' Corey Perry. Hitchcock was asked what kind of response is needed after your star player gets impacted in that manner.

"I think you've got to be careful there," Hitchcock said. "Good players are going to get played hard. First of all, it's their job to protect themselves. Secondly, that stuff happens during the game. You leave it in the veterans' and the leaders' hands and the players' hands to respond. You trust that they can do it and they look at what's going on on the ice. They know what's going on. The rest, you play through. There are things you quite frankly have to play through. Good players are going to get identified on the ice. They circle names, we circle names. That's just the way it is in the National Hockey League and any team sport. You want to make sure you impact the other team's best player so that they don't have a positive impact on the game." 

- - -

Defenseman Colton Parayko, who left the game Thursday with approximately 6:30 remaining in the third period with a lower-body injury, skated Saturday and will be in the lineup against the Wild.

Parayko, who is tied with Justin Faulk of the Carolina Hurricanes for most goals among NHL defensemen with four, did not practice Friday and was seen in a walking boot on his left leg.

"It was good to get out there and get my feet under me for tonight," Parayko said. "It was just a little scare. I was skating the puck out and my foot kind of got caught. ... Everything came out great, so I'm ready to go. 

"I think I might have clipped someone else's skate, just kind of jammed almost, but it was all good."

Hitchcock said the feeling was Parayko would be OK.

"The injury was really minor," he said. "We expected him to play. Parayko playing banged up or playing a little bit banged up, that's part of what it is in the National Hockey League. You have to learn to play that way. That's good that he's going to play."

- - -

The Wild did not skate Saturday after defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 on Friday on home ice. After Devan Dubnyk stopped 25 shots in goal Friday, he will start in back-to-back games, according to coach Mike Yeo. He will be opposed by the Blues' Jake Allen.

Minnesota did recall forward Jordan Schroeder on Saturday to fill the void left by Justin Fontaine, who departed with an injury following a knee-to-knee collision with the Blackhawks' Andrew Desjardins on Friday.

- - -

The Blues' probable lineup:

Alexander Steen-Jori Lehtera-Troy Brouwer

Steve Ott-David Backes-Scottie Upshall

Robby Fabbri-Scott Gomez-Dmitrij Jaskin

Ryan Reaves-Kyle Brodziak-Ty Rattie

Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson-Colton Parayko

Joel Edmundson-Robert Bortuzzo

Jake Allen will start in goal. Brian Elliott will be the backup.

Vladimir Tarasenko (lower body), Jaden Schwartz (ankle), Paul Stastny (foot), Kevin Shattenkirk (lower body) and Patrik Berglund (shoulder) are out with injuries. Chris Butler is the healthy scratch.

- - -

The Wild's projected lineup:

Zach Parise-Mikael Granlund-Jason Pominville

Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Nino Niederreiter

Thomas Vanek-Charlie Coyle-Jordan Schroeder

Chris Porter-Erik Haula-Ryan Carter

Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin-Matt Dumba

Marco Scandella-Nate Prosser

Devan Dubnyk will be in goal, Yeo confirmed at his 5 p.m. presser. Darcy Kuemper will be the backup.

Justin Fontaine (knee) and Tyler Graovac (groin) are out with injuries. Niklas Backstrom and Christian Folin will be healthy scratches.

Friday, October 30, 2015


Parayko will be game-time decision; Tarasenko OK; 
Blues getting strong, flexible work from veteran Ott

ST. LOUIS -- The news on players that were dinged up Thursday night: there is no news as far as their availability is concerned for Saturday.

The Blues held an optional skate at Scottrade Center on Friday, and those affected by injuries (Vladimir Tarasenko, Colton Parayko and David Backes) were not on the ice, as expected.

Tarasenko, who scored his sixth goal in a 2-1 win against the Anaheim Ducks, left the ice for the final four minutes of the second period but came back to finish the game.

He had a bit of a limp a day after being hit by the Ducks' Shawn Horcoff but was walking on his own.

"He's good. He's good. He's ready to go," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of Tarasenko.

As for Parayko, who departed with roughly 6 minutes, 30 seconds remaining in the game after appearing to fall awkwardly nears the boards at center ice, he was in a walking boot on Friday that Hitchcock said was "a protection thing," but called his rookie defenseman "a game-time decision."

"We'll see where he's at tomorrow," Hitchcock said of Parayko, who leads NHL defensemen in goals with four. "... He just fell on the ice. We'll see where he's at tomorrow.

"It's kind of day-to-day, moment-to-moment. We'll find out tomorrow where we're at. We're assuming we'll have Jake Allen (playing) tomorrow and we'll just dress the same lineup and away we go. We'll see where (Scottie) Upshall is. He worked hard today at the skate. He might be a possibility for us, which would be good news. ... It's the off-day. Who knows? Tomorrow we'll tell you who's in the lineup. Everybody's got injuries. We'll see where we're at tomorrow. We'll evaluate it all tomorrow and whatever lineup shows up, shows up."

It's not known if Parayko hit a rut in the ice or perhaps stepped on another skate/blade. 

Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who's missed seven games with a lower-body injury, took in his second skate in a row after sitting out Wednesday when Hitchcock said Shattenkirk was around 95 percent, but the team wanted to get him to 100 percent before resuming play.

"He practiced full today, so we'll see how he feels," Hitchcock said of Shattenkirk. "For us with 'Shatty,' it's kind of when he's able to absorb some practices back-to-back, and today he was on the ice full time so we'll see tomorrow."

The Blues (7-2-1), who host the Minnesota Wild on Saturday, are already without Paul Stastny for another 3-4 weeks (foot), Jaden Schwartz for another 11 weeks (fractured ankle) and Patrik Berglund through December (shoulder surgery). Any more hits would really test the mettle of the team.

But they've been able to adjust and alter their way of playing, and adding the right players as replacements has been instrumental.

"This is why they pay coaches," Hitchcock said. "You have to be able to do this stuff. It's adjusting your lineup. It's adjusting the way you play the opposition. The biggest challenge is the way you play the opposition. You have a game plan at the start of the year when you're healthy and when you're not, you have to adjust the way you play. That's what coaches are supposed to do, is make the adjustments based on the lineup. Some of it is simplifying the game, (but) the big part of it is the way you play your personnel. So you might go from where you're looking for advantages to where you're looking to negate people. Right now, we're in that situation where we're using people to negate people. 

"We're having a harder look at the opposition most of the season except for a dozen-15 games, you just look at yourself. But when you have injuries, and you've got to pull the opposition away from their game, now you're looking more at the opposition. So we spend a lot of time looking at the opposition looking to see what we can negate or what we can push out of the competition. That's coaching; you've got to be able to do that stuff when you're in this situation that you're in. Two times I've had experiences like this where you have to do this. We spent a whole year in Columbus like this and made the playoffs playing this way. It's the way you have to play to do it and you do it. The other factor is you've got to hunker down defensively. You've got to expect every night, you're going to score two goals and get points. Every time you score two goals, you should expect to get points. That's got to be your goal if you want to get in the playoffs."

The Blues' goaltending and defense have been catalysts with the recent rash of injuries. In light of missing the key personnel, the Blues have allowed four goals in three games on this homestand.

I think it's a combination. There's a partnership between the coaches and the players. Roles change," Hitchcock said. "We have people who came into this season with this type of role and their role has completely changed from where it was three weeks ago. It's been good on them that they've been able to make these adjustments, but these adjustments will not be short-term. These won't be three- or four-day adjustments; it's going to be a good month before we start seeing people come back and we're going to have these people's cooperation to make these adjustments. And I think our players have done a wonderful job in changing the way we have to play, changing our disposition on the ice and coaches changing the way they allocate ice time for us to get points every night."

* Ott shines -- The theme for the Blues that's seemed to work the past couple games is wherever a line or a teammate needs a boost, or if a key faceoff needs to be won, or have someone drop the gloves to stir the pot, veteran Steve Ott's name has been called a plethora of times.

Ott, who arguably had his best all-around game as a Blue Thursday, is feeling good these days.

The 33-year-old seems to have caught some of the flare that he brought with him to St. Louis after being acquired by the Buffalo Sabres in 2013.

Hitchcock even commented after Thursday's victory that Ott is skating as well as he's seen since his arrival.

Ott got an assist on Tarasenko's goal, then he fought the Ducks' Corey Perry moments after Tarasenko was hit by Horcoff, and Hitchcock used Ott in a variety of roles.

Just another night at the office, and it's no coincidence either.

"Last summer, I came off of (sports hernia) surgery and didn't really have enough time to get myself going feet-wise," Ott said. "I felt like I was playing a lot of catch-up last year. It takes a little toll on your stride, but this summer, I really tried to add a lot of that, mix in a lot of skating, a lot of getting your feet going again, especially as you get older. The one thing you've got to do to stay around this league is keep your feet. If you can keep your feet, you're going to stay in this game. For myself, that was what I keyed on this summer."

Hitchcock's noticed, and he's rewarding Ott with more responsibilities.

"He just seems to be quicker on the ice, he's more patient with the puck," Hitchcock said. "He's being smart. I think he's being smarter with his energy. I think he's been smart with his positional play. 

"I think the biggest thing for me is he's been really smart with his positional play. That's really helping him. He's in the right spot, spacing on the ice is good. He's creating turnovers, he's got energy in the right places. I thought last year, the line for the first half of the year did a lot of chasing, so they had to cover too much ice. I think he's playing really smart, energized hockey and it's really helping us. We've been able to push him up the lineup, which has been a good sign for us. We get a game where we need the energy in a certain area and he provides it because he's in the right positional play. I think that's a good way we're using him right now. Obviously he and Kyle kill penalties together and they do a helluva job. From an energy standpoint, when we need a boost, we use him."

And Ott, who normally plays left wing on a line with Kyle Brodziak and Ryan Reaves, doesn't mind the in-game adjustments.

"I've done that my whole career," Ott said. "For a long time, I don't ever remember myself being on one stagnant line or one line for the whole time. I've always kind of created my game as being able to play in all different situations. If it's center, if it's right wing, if it's left wing. Just give a coach the opportunity to be put in different situations.

"... I've been around a long time. I've got a lot of games in certain situations. I've played on some big offensive lines just a few years ago in my career. It's fun; you have to adjust on the go, but you know what, it's something that I kind of credit to coaching in situations myself back when I was younger and being thrown in all those different types of situations. It's not myself. Everybody;s bought into this kind of system. For us to be successful, you have to play your role. We're all trying to do that, we're all trying to chip in from 'Revo' all the way to Vladi Tarasenko. Every guy has a role on this team. For our team to excel, every guy has to buy into their role."

Ott, whose career-high in goals was 22 with the Dallas Stars in the 2009-10 season, is only happy to lend a helping hand to do his part until the injured guys return.

"Everybody's been raising their game," Ott said. "I think if you look at per minute-wise on this club, I think everybody's up right now and trying to take on extra minutes and an extra role. When you do that, that's the key role for all of us out there. 

"My own tester is how I feel. When I feel my feet are going, I get pucks, I'm on top of pucks, I just try to chip in as well."

* Jaskin, Rattie outlooks -- Both Ty Rattie and Dmitrij Jaskin, drafted by the Blues in the second round of the 2011 NHL Draft, have been tabbed as two of the younger players -- along with Robbi Fabbri -- to get opportunities to plug holes until injured players return.

Rattie played 9:43 but had the assist on Parayko's game-winner, and Hitchcock said Rattie, who's played in two of three games since being recalled from Chicago, progressively got better.

"I think he was a little bit nervous at the start and got better and better as the game went on," Hitchcock said of Rattie. "I thought his third period was his best period. He was more confident and stuff like that. I thought with the desperation in the game by both teams, I think it was a little bit overwhelming for him at the start, but as the game went on, he got better and better and better. Good sign."

As for Jaskin, who has two assists on the season (both in Winnipeg), he's began the game playing left wing with Backes and Troy Brouwer but eventually landed on the fourth line when the Blues moved Ott up to provide a boost.

"We pushed him into a role that he hasn't had yet this year and he's learning," Hitchcock said of Jaskin. "He's trying to find his way. I think this is the first time where we've challenged him to be a worker and he's done a good job. Now we need a worker plus a scorer and he's learning to adjust to that right now. He's in that adjustment phase. It's interesting. When the game's on the line, he goes back to being the worker and you just love him. But we need him; we probably need more from that position because of where we're at. We're trying to engage him to get him going."

* Allen in goal -- Allen will make his third straight start against the Wild.

Allen's allowed only one goal on 49 shots the past two games in wins against the Ducks and last Tuesday, a 26-save shutout victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Parayko fluke goal lifts Blues past Ducks 2-1

Rookie defenseman leads all NHL d-men in goals, 
sends struggling Anaheim home 0-4-1 off five-game trip

ST. LOUIS -- Right now, it doesn't matter in what fashion things are happening for rookie Colton Parayko.

Like the old saying goes: anything he touches, turns to gold.

And even when Parayko missed the net with that big, booming shot of his, good fortune happens, like it did in the third period Thursday at Scottrade Center against the Anaheim Ducks.

Parayko's fluky goal midway through the third period helped the Blues defeat the struggling Ducks 2-1. 
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Jori Lehtera (12) and Vladimir Tarasenko celebrate Tarasenko's goal near
Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen in a 2-1 victory Thursday night.

Parayko, who leads NHL defensemen with four goals, got the puck at the blue line after the Blues' Scott Gomez won a faceoff, Ty Rattie got the puck back to the Blues' defenseman and he fired a shot that missed the net. But the puck came off the end boards, caromed off the left skate of Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen and slid into the net with 9:29 remaining, breaking a 1-1 tie.

Parayko left the game with 6:30 remaining in the third period with an undisclosed injury. He appeared to skip on the ice awkwardly after coming together with Anaheim's Chris Wagner along the center ice boards. Coach Ken Hitchcock said he thinks Parayko will be fine.

Hitchcock spoke recently about wanting Parayko being more accurate with his heavy shot. He quipped after being asked if he thought it was OK with that one being wide.

"Yeah," Hitchcock said laughing. "He's around big points right now, which is a good sign for us right now. He's getting a lot of big points, timely points, timely goals, timely assists, whatever. He's having a big impact with us right now."

Andersen said it's the type of play that's going against the Ducks right now.

"Unfortunately, it came right back and hit the skate," Andersen said. "I thought we played great. That’s how I play it, but this time, it ended up costing us the game. 

"Its tough. I was surprised it came out that fast. We deserved a win for sure."

Vladimir Tarasenko also scored and Jake Allen made 22 saves for the Blues (7-2-1), who have two wins and an overtime loss on their five-game homestand. 

The Ducks (1-7-2) got a power-play goal from Hampus Lindholm and have scored 10 times in their 10 games this season. They ended their five-game trip 0-4-1 and remain winless on the road this season (0-5-1). 

Andersen made 32 saves and is 0-5-2 on the season, but Anaheim, despite being right there at the end in the past three games, just can't seem to get over the hump.

"We can sit there and say it was a bad goal, but [Andersen] did make four great saves after that and it was 2-1 so he kept us in the game," Boudreau said. "We need a break and we're not getting them right now, we're playing good enough to win. We didn't have the chances in the third period; 5-on-5 we were competing really hard and that’s all I can ask for." 

The Blues got a bit of a scare when Tarasenko was hit by Anaheim's Shawn Horcoff with four minutes to play in the second period. He left the ice favoring his left leg and did not return for the remainder of the period but came back for the third and got a rousing ovation from the 16,904 in attendance.

"Good. Good. I feel good," Tarasenko said. "It was really loud. Thanks for fans here."

Not long after, Steve Ott fought Ducks superstar Corey Perry to get his teammates fired up, and it seemed to spur his teammates.

"To be honest I didn’t really see what happened until afterwards," Ott said of the Tarasenko hit. "It’s a revved up game. They have a hard, hard hockey team over there that plays physical as well. We knew it would be a physical contest and I think we matched well. We got a huge two points for our club."

Tarasenko was appreciative.

It's always nice having a teammate like Steve, a guy who can step up for you, who can actually help you play defense and can create some offense," Tarasenko said. "These are the kind of guys who can make team spirit on the team. Glad to play with him.

"I didn't think about (the hit). ... It's not my job to tell something about referees. Let them do their job."

Lindholm gave the Ducks a 1-0 lead by scoring Anaheim's third power-play goal of the season. He took a feed from Corey Perry to the left of Allen, who stopped the first couple of attempts, but Lindholm continued to whack at the puck before slipping it past Allen on the short side 2:33 into the second period. 

It was the Ducks' second goal in the second period this season. They've been outscored 13-2. 

The Blues tied it on Tarasenko's team-leading sixth goal. He converted a 2-on-0 play with Jori Lehtera after the Ducks had a terrific chance to go up 2-0. Cam Fowler's pass through the crease went of the skates of Perry and Carl Hagelin onto the stick of Ott. His pass sprung Tarasenko and Lehtera, and Tarasenko beat Andersen at 6:18 of the second period.

"We have a couple 2-on-0's in our hockey career together," Tarasenko said. "It's fun to play with him. ... It was my first 2-on-0 goal in my NHL career. It was pretty fun.

"That's how coaches teach us in Russia; if you go 2-on-0, make a pass at the blue line and let the guy do whatever."

Ott quipped that he thought he would get a minus on the play and not a point.

"I thought I was going to get a really easy minus to be honest with you," Ott joked. "They had a little bit of a mishap and (they) turned (it) over and all of a sudden you see two superstars on the other end and they are playing give and go and what a heck of a goal.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
The Blues' Steve Ott levels Anaheim's Chris Wagner with a check during
Thursday's 2-1 victory against the Ducks. A scrum ensued after the hit.

"You never see, usually, those two guys up there like that with that much ice. To be honest with you, just the way the play broke up, you can almost guarantee those guys are going to score."

Despite being without some key players in Jaden Schwartz (fractured ankle), Paul Stastny (broken foot), Kevin Shattenkirk (lower body) and Patrik Berglund (shoulder surgery), the Blues are finding ways to accumulate points. They need all the points they can get in a competitive Central Division.

"This is a really tight group in here guys," Ott said. "You can never replace guys like 'Shatty' and 'Stas' and 'Schwartzy' and even (Scottie Upshall) for that fact too. With all these guys, you can’t. We’ve got a lot of young guys in the lineup, we’re all pushing each other, we’re a really tight-knit group, our goaltending is playing great and when you do so you’re getting a recipe to win. The practices have been tough. We’re grinding each other, trying to make each other better at the same time to kind of push forward and when we get those bodies back it’s only going to help us and right now we’re picking up some valuable points."

(10-29-15) Ducks-Blues Gameday Lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Scottie Upshall took part in an optional morning skate Thursday before the Blues (6-2-1) faced the Anaheim Ducks (1-6-2) at 7 p.m. (FS-MW, KMOX 1120-AM) but it appears he will not play.

Upshall, who coach Ken Hitchcock said was dinged up late in the 2-0 victory Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, did not take part in a full practice Wednesday. 

With Upshall apparently out, Ty Rattie will slide in and play.

With it being 10th game tonight and the Blues all but have the injury bug down pat, it seems like the team has taken to heart the mantra of next-man-up-mentality.

"I liked what they've done; I've liked the way they've approached it,"  Hitchcock said. "It's more who's in rather than who's out. I like that. I think that's really helped us. 

"You can commiserate with it all you want what's missing, but I like the fact that it's more about the guys that are in than the guys that are out, and sometimes that's a little bit harsh because you don't spend much time even socially with guys that are hurt unfortunately. But I like the fact that it's who's name comes up on the board. When it's your turn to play, it's your turn to play and we expect you to contribute."

- - -

The Blues know the Ducks are a wounded animal right now. And they even have their captain, Ryan Getzlaf, who is out 4-12 days after having an appendectomy. But judging from their past two games of a five-game trip that concludes tonight, the Blues are wary of who Anaheim is and what they're capable of.

"Each game's different," Upshall said. "You worry about teams who you're expected to have success (against) and who you don't. You worry about them having a breakout game against you. I think they realize what kind of opportunity it is tonight for them. It's a tough building, we're obviously a tough team to play against. They're a team that rises to the occasion. They're missing their key guy in Getzlaf. They've got a stacked lineup, a team that can score goals and good goaltending. We're expecting them to push us and give us a test."

The Ducks are 0-3-1 on their trip but are coming off a 1-0 overtime loss at Chicago on Monday and a 4-3 loss at Dallas on Tuesday in which Anaheim lost a 3-0 first-period lead.

"I've been very impressed with the last two games," Hitchcock said of the Ducks. "They've played good. You run out of a little bit of steam in Dallas off back-to-back coming out of Chicago; that's not easy. For five of the last six periods, they've been very impressive. If that's the way they're going to play, they're going to win a lot of hockey games because they look like they're right back on track to be honest with you."

- - -

The Blues' probable lineup:

Alexander Steen-Jori Lehtera-Vladimir Tarasenko

Dmitrij Jaskin-David Backes-Troy Brouwer

Robbi Fabbri-Scott Gomez-Ty Rattie

Steve Ott-Kyle Brodziak-Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson-Colton Parayko

Joel Edmundson-Robert Bortuzzo

Jake Allen will start in goal. Brian Elliott will be the backup.

Healthy scratches include Chris Butler and Scottie Upshall. Jaden Schwartz (ankle), Paul Stastny (foot), Patrik Berglund (shoulder) and Kevin Shattenkirk (lower body) are all out with injuries.

- - -

The Ducks' projected lineup:

Carl Hagelin-Ryan Kesler-Corey Perry

Andrew Cogliano-Shawn Horcoff-Jakob Silfverberg

Jiri Sekac-Rickard Rakell-Chris Stewart

Patrick Maroon-Chris Wagner-Mike Santorelli

Cam Fowler-Korbinian Holzer

Hampus Lindholm-Kevin Bieksa

Clayton Stoner-Sami Vatanen

Frederik Andersen will start in goal. Anton Khudobin will be the backup. 

Healthy scratches include Tim Jackman and Joe Piskula. Ryan Getzlaf (appendicitis), Simon Despres (upper body), Josh Manson (upper body) and Nate Thompson (shoulder) are out with injuries.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Zubrus came close to calling it an NHL career; 
Shattenkirk not ready; Upshall fine; Allen in goal

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Instead if throwing in thr towel, Dainius Zubrus continued to believe.

A veteran of 18 NHL seasons, Zubrus has had a tumultuous few months.

After spending the past eight seasons with the New Jersey Devils, Zubrus had his contract terminated by the Devils on July 30, thus making him an unrestricted free agent. And when no takers came with a contract for the 2015-16 season, Zubrus was left without a place to attend training camp for the first time since 1996.

But 48 hours ago, a call came from Blues assistant general manager Marty Brodeur, Zubrus' teammate with the Devils from 2007-2014.

Brodeur asked Zubrus, among other things how things were going and would he be interested in coming to St. Louis on a professional tryout. 

There was no hesitation.

"I've been waiting for a call like that for a couple months and it never happened," Zubrus said. "Obviously sitting at home and waiting and you kind of question whether it's going to happen. I was hoping that it will and it did. I was very happy to have a chance to get an opportunity. That's all I can really ask for and I'm happy."

Zubrus, 37, and 34-year-old Martin Havlat, who got a phone call from Blues GM Doug Armstrong piqueing his interest for a PTO, were at practice with the Blues, who have given them, and vice versa, a 10-day window to impress enough to perhaps work out an NHL contract.

Havlat also spent last season with the Devils and had 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 40 regular season games. 

The 6-foot-2, 209-pound left wing was originally drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the first round of the 1999 NHL Draft and went on to be named to the 2000-01 NHL All-Rookie Team in his first season. 

Overall, Havlat  has appeared in 14 seasons, including stints with the Senators, Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild, San Jose Sharks and Devils.  A 2006-07 All-Star, Havlat has played in 788 games and has 593 points (241 goals, 352 assists). The Mlada Boleslav, Czech Republic native has 52 points (21 goals, 31 assists) in 75 career postseason games.

Havlat was in camp with the Florida Panthers on a PTO but was released.

"I'm here and I'm trying to play here," Havlat said. "I've been happy to be on the ice with the boys today. It's much more fun than the last three weeks. I was the best player on the ice because I was skating by myself. It was a little different today, so much more fun.

"I felt pretty good actually. I think I came in good shape and had a decent camp. It is what it is and for whatever reason, it didn't work out (in Florida). Now today I'm standing here."

Zubrus posted 10 points (four goals, six assists) in 74 regular season games last season.

Originally drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round of the 1996 NHL Draft, the Elektrenai, Lithuania native has played with the Flyers, Montreal Canadiens, Washington Capitals, Buffalo Sabres and Devils. The 6-5, 225-pound forward has 584 points (225 goals, 359 assists) in 1,243 games and 35 points (11 goals, 24 assists) in 92 career postseason games.

He worked out on his own at the Devils' training facility but began to wonder if another opportunity in the NHL would ever arise. Zubrus even contemplated going to Europe but didn't sway from his thinking that a call would eventually come.

It came from old friend Brodeur.

"He just asked me how I'm doing and if I'd be willing to come in and I said, 'Of course,'" Zubrus said. "I still feel like I'm an NHL player; I want to play in the NHL. I kind of waited for some options, maybe go to Europe and things like that, but in my head, it was NHL or nothing. 

"At first it was just kind of texts. Things like, 'How are you doing?' We occasionally text each other to see how we're doing. My wife's French-Canadian; obviously he's French and his wife. I wasn't sure what it was all about, but sure enough, I went on the website and Googled the news and stuff. I knew there were a couple guys already hurt and then I saw there was another one. So I kind of put two and two together and I asked him straight up of there's anything going on. And he said, 'Yeah.' That's how we kind of continued and here I am."

Both players have made millions of dollars working in the NHL and are at a point in their careers where winning is the standard.

Just ask veteran Scott Gomez.

"If you're an older player especially ... you bet," he said. "We've all been in places. Obviously the league's gotten younger where you're team's not doing well, yeah, they're going to go, 'It's an excuse, but we're going to go with the young guys.' But I think the whole hockey world knows this is a Cup-contending team. Especially later on in your career, that's all you want. You want to get into the playoffs. That's the goal."

Both players took part in a relatively brisk but spirited practice Wednesday. Coach Ken Hitchcock said the jury is still out.

"It's too early right now," Hitchcock said. "Neither one of them have practiced for a little while. They both went through a heavy dose of training camps and exhibition games and stuff like that, but they haven't been able to practice yet. We'll get a much better evaluation by the end of the weekend here. But first day, as we said, both guys come from really good, structured programs so they know how to work, they know how to play the game the right way. If they look like they've got the enthusiasm and energy just based on their own playing ability, they would help any team.

"We've got to get them working so they get up to speed. A lot of things are happening pretty quick right now, so get them up to speed and see where it is here in the next 7-10 days."

No matter what happens over the next 10 days, it's a step-by-step process, and one both veterans will take.

"I've never been in this situation, but I'm excited and I'll take it one day at a time," Zubrus said. "... It wouldn't have made sense to drag on. If it's not happening, eventually you get to the point that it's not happening. I wasn't there yet. I was still waiting. Of course you second-guess and question when you're you're going to get a call or if you're going to get a call. I tried as good as I can to stay in shape and I'm glad it happened. This team is a really good team. It's been a good team for a long time and I'm sure the goals are to win and I'm glad they gave me this opportunity."

"It's always a nice feeling when someone wants you to come and show them what you can," Havlat said. "It's nice to feel that you're wanted somewhere."

* Shattenkirk not ready -- Optimism turned to caution for Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.

Shattenkirk, who's been dealing with a lower-body injury since Oct. 13, has missed the past six games. 

Thursday when the Blues (6-2-1) host the slumping Anaheim Ducks (1-6-2), Shattenkirk will miss a seventh game.

There's no reason for concern, but Shattenkirk wants to be 100 percent when he returns to the lineup.

Hitchcock said it's not quite there.

"It's the five-percenter. It's five percent," Hitchcock said. It's 95 (percent healthy); he wants to be at 100. We want him at 100 so we're trying different aspects to see if we can get it. He's worked really hard, he's skated extra, he's done all the extra work, but it's stalled. By taking the day off and doing all the work off-ice that he did, we're hoping we can crack it through the last five percent. We're right there. We've got to find the right balance between the work and the rest. Today was not a scheduled work day, but with everything that happened yesterday, we decided to put him into it. We'll see how he is tomorrow. He's days away; he's not weeks away. We're trying to get that last five percent."

Shattenkirk didn't practice Wednesday after skating hard the past couple days.

"Just coming in today after skating Monday and Tuesday and not feeling like it was progressing, I just figured that it would be good to give it a day to relax because the past few days have been pretty hard on it," Shattenkirk said. "That was the goal the last few days, to skate like I was going to be playing in a game. Because it didn't respond well, I just felt it was the right decision to rest a bit and give it time."

* Upshall missing -- Forward Scottie Upshall also missed practice. 

After missing Saturday because of sickness, Upshall played Tuesday in a 2-0 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"He got banged up with maybe five minutes left in the game a little bit," Hitchcock said of Upshall. "He's a little bit sore today, so we just opted to keep him off the ice. He'll be fine for tomorrow."

* Power outage -- The Blues are playing short of some key pieces in Shattenkirk, Paul Stastny (foot) and Jaden Schwartz (ankle). All three are key contributors on the power play and it's definitely showing.

After going 0-for-3 Tuesday, the Blues are 0-for 11 the past three games and in a 1-for-23 funk going back six games.

They only have four power play goals on the season.

"I think it's gone in stages," Hitchcock said. "I think we're in the stage now where we're forcing the issue a little too much, so we want to get them to relax and find open people. 

"There was a time before this where we were quite frankly getting outworked. That's not there. The last couple power plays, we've worked really hard, we've battled, we've competed, we've kept the puck. We've kind of forced it a little bit. Quite frankly, I like where we're going now. When you have a good work ethic, these are areas that you can fix as a coach, but when you're struggling on the work ethic side of things, you've got a bigger problem. But we look like we're past that now. We're starting to get our work ethic and our determination back where we want it."

Are teams standing the Blues up and the blue line and making zone entries tougher?

"No, it's our tempo," Hitchcock said. "There's been too much indecision in what we're doing with the puck. I liked what we did yesterday. We got it in the zone. We did a good job with it yesterday, but when it got a little bit scrambly, rather than settle it down, we forced the issue. We tried to keep the puck moving and we could have held on and maybe had a little more composure."

* Notes -- WIth Shattenkirk out, the same six on defense will play against the Ducks, who are 0-3-1 on their current five-game trip with one more stop left.

Jake Allen, who stopped all 26 shots faced in beating close friend Ben Bishop on Tuesday, will get the start Thursday.

After the Canadiens allowed five goals to the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday, the Blues remain as the lone team in the league to not allow more than three goals in a game this season. 

The Blues are 5-0-0 in games scoring three goals or more, 1-2-1 when scoring fewer than three. Their first win in that fashion came Tuesday.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Blues to bring in Havlat, Zubrus on professional tryouts

Veteran forwards to receive 10-day window to earn contracts in light of injuries

ST. LOUIS -- Doug Armstrong has been a busy working the phones in light of the recent rash of injuries for the Blues, particularly at the forward position.

Other teams have inquired about the possibility of talking trade with the Blues' general manager, who opted to go in a different direction -- for the time being.

The Blues will bring in another pair of veterans in Martin Havlat and Dainius Zubrus on professional tryouts to help alleviate some of the shortcomings at the forward position with long-term injuries to Paul Stastny (foot), Jaden Schwartz (ankle) and Patrik Berglund (shoulder).
(Wire photo)
Martin Havlat has 593 points in 788 regular season
games, most recently with the New Jersey Devils.

Havlat and Zubrus, who have combined to play 2,031 career regular season games, last played for the New Jersey Devils last season.

Havlat was with the Florida Panthers on a PTO but was not signed; Zubrus has been working out at the Devils' training facilities hoping to find a spot.

Both are expected to be in St. Louis on Wednesday and will have a 10-day window to try and earn a contract moving forward.

"The way that it works is they'll be executed tomorrow and we'll have 10 days to look at them, they have 10 days to look at us also," Armstrong said. "The reason being, we have 13 (forwards) here now, and three of those players don't combine for 100 games total in the NHL. I'm comfortable with our group right now. It's planning for the best and hoping there's no more injuries. We're hoping for the best and planning for the worst. The next wave of injuries we get could be worrisome. We want to make sure we're expanding all of our resources to make sure we have enough depth. On short-term injuries, you're very comfortable with your depth at your American (Hockey) League system in your own organization, but having Schwartz and Berglund out until likely until the All-Star Game or later and Stastny not back until December, it made it something like a low-risk, high-return. We've been looking at a few different players. These are two guys we focused in on."

Havlat, 34, spent last season with the New Jersey Devils, where he had 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 40 regular season games. 

The 6-foot-2, 209-pound left wing was originally drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the first round of the 1999 NHL Draft and went on to be named to the 2000-01 NHL All-Rookie Team in his first season. 

Overall, Havlat  has appeared in 14 seasons, including stints with the Senators, Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild, San Jose Sharks and Devils.  A 2006-07 All-Star, Havlat played in 788 games, accumulating 593 points (241 goals, 352 assists). The Mlada Boleslav, Czech Republic native has 52 points (21 goals, 31 assists) in 75 career postseason games. 

"Marty's a player that came into the league as a top offensive player and really hasn't played to that level the last couple years but he does have the skating ability and size," Armstrong said. "He's a guy that can play in your top nine and in your top six on a lot of nights now. ... He's at a point now, went to Florida, I talked to people in Florida, had a really good training camp there, close to talking about singing him." 

Zubrus, 37, spent last season with the Devils, where he posted 10 points (four goals, six assists) in 74 regular season games.

Originally drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round of the 1996 NHL Draft, the Elektrenai, Lithuania native is a veteran of 18 seasons, including stints with the Flyers, Montreal Canadiens, Washington Capitals, Buffalo Sabres and Devils. The 6-5, 225-pound forward has 584 points (225 goals, 359 assists) in 1,243 games and 35 points (11 goals, 24 assists) in 92 career postseason games.  

"Zubrus is a big body, can play center or left wing to help us down on the back end of the group if necessary," Armstrong said. "Two different styles of players; we'll decide which one fits best or if both fit, may need both or a couple more in five more games."

The Blues have reportedly received offers for some of their defensemen. Carl Gunnarsson's name has been reported to be among those asked about, but in light of Kevin Shattenkirk's recent lower-body injury, perhaps the Blues are balking at offering up any of their defenseman at the moment as well as not making any knee-jerk reaction to a trade for a short-term fix that could produce long-term problems.

"If we're going to make trades, we want to do something not just for a short term fix and then create a hole for later on," Armstrong said. "I think any time you make a trade, you're looking for something that's going to stand the test of time. Right now, its sort of a rob Peter to pay Paul. You move from area of depth and then you get two injuries and that's an area of weakness. 

"We're going to explore everything obviously as move forward, but this seemed like the path of least resistance as far as risk was concerned."

The Blues have already gone down the avenue of PTO's with Scott Gomez and Scottie Upshall, who earned contracts and are playing pivotal minutes now.

"You get guys like (Gomez) and Upshall, you feel good for them because they're guys that came here with no promises and earned the right to play and I think that's good and that's what we're hoping with Havlat and Zubrus," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "These are real pros, they've been good players. We don't need them to save us, we just need them to help us. There's a real opportunity for those guys here, too. 

"It's probably going to be a little uncomfortable for guys because we've got 14-15 guys around here on the forward lines, but we also got them here for a long time. There's nobody coming into the lineup in the next couple weeks. This is going to be our lineup for the next 5-6 weeks at least, and hopefully these guys can come in and look like they can help us and give us some good minutes."
(Wire photo)
Dainius Zubrus comes to St. Louis on a PTO looking to earn a
contract with the Blues.

Some on the outside may say why not give the younger players groomed in the system the opportunity to grab more responsibilities? Players like Robby Fabbri, Ty Rattie, Magnus Paajarvi and Ivan Barbashev down in Chicago, among others.

"We'll monitor that team very closely and then we'll be able to compare apples to apples," Armstrong said of the Wolves. "There's some really good depth players down there. (Jordan) Caron is down there with experience. What we're trying to do is maximize our abilities. By bringing these guys in on tryouts, it doesn't disrupt our American League right now.

"... Rattie's going to get his opportunity, there's no question. Robby Fabbri's only played one NHL game and everyone wants to anoint him as the second coming. I think we all have to tab our brakes on some of these guys and find out how good they really are. If they pass the test, that's great; if they don't, we want to have some quality replacements."

Allen gets best of friend Bishop in 2-0 victory against Lightning

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."