Saturday, January 16, 2016

Elliott steals show in Blues' 4-3 OT win against Canadiens

Netminder makes career-high 46 saves 
on Goalies Night; Lehtera nets game-winner

ST. LOUIS -- Brian Elliott couldn't help but be stoked.

When the Blues' goalie of the present heard the names Mike Liut, Grant Fuhr and Curtis Joseph introduced during the pregame, he took it upon himself to make franchise goalies of the past proud he's one of them.

Elliott was true to form when he made a career-high 46 saves on "Goalies Night," part of a series of Heritage Night games the Blues are hosting this season, and Jori Lehtera capped off the Blues' 4-3 victory against the Montreal Canadiens by scoring 2:04 into overtime at Scottrade Center on Saturday.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues goalie Brian Elliott makes one of his career-high 46 saves on a shot
by Montreal's David Desharnais in St. Louis' 4-3 overtime win Saturday.

Elliott wore a themed Joseph "Cujo" 1990's retro mask; he's been wearing the Joseph blue pads and mitts. The performance was reminiscent of a Joseph effort during his days in St. Louis from 1989-1995.

Elliott’s 46 saves were the most by a Blues goalie at home since Joseph had 46 on Apr. 11, 1993.

"When those guys are watching, you kind of want to play good out there," Elliott said. "I had a couple two-pad stacks in pre-game warm-up, kind of channeling from the mask a little bit. It was special for me to play in front of those guys. I watched a lot of games. I was outside playing street hockey pretending I was them a lot of years and for them to be here and watch this game, it meant a lot to me. Guys coming through and getting the 'W' was pretty special."

Even the inspiration of the Joseph vs. Tim Cheveldae fight on Jan. 23, 1993 brought inspiration to Elliott, since it was a topic of conversation Friday night at the Missouri Athletic Club.

"We talked about it last night (at the dinner), maybe I could get in one," Elliott joked. "I didn't know if Condon was going to skate down. If he was there, I was ready." 

Robby Fabbri intercepted defenseman Andrei Markov's backhand pass, toe-dragged around Alex Galchenyuk and thwarted off Markov before going down to a knee. Lehtera collected a loose puck and slid a shot through the pads of Canadiens goalie Mike Condon.

"I actually think he just fell down there," Lehtera said of Fabbri. "He tried to take the puck from me, but otherwise great play.

"... 'Ells' was amazing today."

Fabbri said: "I saw (Lehtera) going hard there for the puck, I thought I was in good position to make that move, lucky enough it worked out.

"I just followed 'Lehry' in after he got it, if you see on the replay I was just standing there, I didn't know if there was going to be a rebound, of if it was a nice move."

Fabbri had a goal and an assist, and Paul Stastny and Ty Rattie scored for St. Louis (26-15-7).

The Blues, down six players due to injury, continue to move along picking up points the best way they can, but the two points obtained Saturday fell squarely on the shoulders of Elliott.

"It seems fitting on "Goalies Night" that he put on quite a show," captain David Backes said of Elliott. "He did a heck of a job, kept us in it. It's about time we reward him with some effort to make good on all of his great efforts. 

"... He's the guy you (media) should have these microphones in front of because he should he the first, second and third star." 

Coach Ken Hitchcock agreed.

"He was good. He was good," Elliott said. "Had to be. Montreal's playing good. They did the same thing to Chicago. They had 40-something against Chicago. They're blasting away from anywhere. (Corey) Crawford was great in Montreal and made six or seven 10-bellers and 'Ells' was good tonight. Montreal's on the verge of winning quite a few games if they play like this. Their team's healthy now. They've got their team that was at the start of the year back together now and they're playing well."

Max Pacioretty had a goal and an assist, P.K. Subban and Tomas Plekanec scored for the Canadiens (23-18-4), who got 18 saves from Condon. Montreal ends a two-game trip Sunday at the Chicago Blackhawks.

Plekanec gave Montreal a 3-2 lead with a shot from the high slot off Pacioretty's feed with 6:09 remaining, but Rattie answered for the Blues with his second NHL goal 44 seconds later on a shot from the slot off defenseman Mark Barberio's stick to tie it 3-3. 

"I saw him going hard there for the puck, I thought I was in good position to make that move, lucky enough it worked out," Fabbri said of Lehtera. "I just followed 'Lehry' in after he got it, if you see on the replay I was just standing there, I didn't know if there was going to be a rebound, of if it was a nice move."

Despite being outshot 17-9 in the first period, the Blues took a 1-0 lead on Fabbri's 11th of the season at 34 seconds. Elliott made several outstanding saves to keep the Canadiens from scoring. 

The Canadiens challenged the call for goalie interference but the goal was upheld after review. Lehtera was at the top of the crease battling with Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin. 

The second period had three goals and 38 minutes in penalties. 

The Canadiens took a 2-1 lead when Subban's power-play goal at the end of Montreal's fourth man-advantage deflected off Vladimir Tarasenko's stick at 3:41 to tie the game 1-1. Pacioretty's shot from close range at 10:24 gave the Canadiens a 2-1 lead. 

Stastny made it 2-2 1:07 later when Colton Parayko's wrist shot from the blue line made it through bodies in front of Condon and went off Stastny. It was his first goal since Dec. 15 (14 games). 

The Blues killed six of seven power plays through two periods, including five in the second period and two short 5-on-3s. 

The Canadiens held a 39-16 edge in shots on goal through two periods. They had 22 in the second, which is the most the Blues have allowed in a period this season. 
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues players congratulate Jori Lehtera after the center scored the
game-winner in overtime on Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens.

"Luckily I think the longest they had on the 5-on-3 was 18 seconds and then 15," Elliott said. 

Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk was among the ones to get penalty minutes, including 14 after taking a double-minor for roughing and 10-minute misconduct for barking some unpleasantries at referee Kelly Sutherland.

"It was dysfunctional to play without him a little bit," Hitchcock said of Skattenkirk. "The explanation was that he said a bad word. So he got a time out.

"I'm not getting into the referee stuff right now. I need to buy a boat this summer."

Forward Alexander Steen was in the Blues lineup after he did not take part in the morning skate and Hitchcock said he would be out.

"I thought the players were kidding me when they came in and said, 'You've got a new player and he's gonna play.' I said, 'Forget it; he's not playing,' because we were told he had a tough night [Friday] night," Hitchcock said of Steen. "Shows up, wants to play. No face shield. That's even more impressive. Felt he could give us some minutes, and that's what he did."

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