Thursday, February 18, 2016

Elliott stellar in Blues' 2-1 OT win against Kings

Schwartz scores game-winner for fourth straight win; St. Louis 5-0-1 last six

ST. LOUIS -- The intensity and playoff feel was in full swing between the Blues and Los Angeles Kings Thursday night.

And after watching Brian Elliott make another one of his dazzling saves to preserve a tie game, the game was on Jaden Schwartz's stick.

But before that, Schwartz and the rest of the Blues barely had enough time to catch their collective breaths after watching Elliott do his thing.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Teammates mob Jaden Schwartz after he scored the game-winning goal in
overtime for the Blues in a 2-1 victory against the Los Angeles Kings.

Schwartz scored 1:40 into overtime to give the Blues a 2-1 victory against the Kings at Scottrade Center on Thursday before 18,923 in a game that had the playoff-feel on the ice and in the stands. 

Schwartz beat Jonathan Quick on a length-of-the-ice breakaway moments after Elliott's glove save on Milan Lucic that would have given the Kings the victory.

The Kings' Vincent Lecavalier threw a puck towards Elliott, who knocked it into the right circle. Schwartz fought off Alec Martinez and off to the races he went. His initial shot hit the left post, caromed off Quick's left skate and in.

It was Schwartz's third goal in four games since returning from a fractured left ankle which forced him to miss 49 games.

"I think one guy drove wide and threw it out front," Schwartz said. "It was kind of a little bit of a scramble in front. The puck just kind of bounced and it was kind of a race from there. Lecavalier was chasing me and just tried getting the puck on net. I think it bounced, hit the post and went off Quick's (skate) and in. That's probably the longest breakaway I'll ever have. I think I started at our goal line."

The save by Elliott on Lucic with 1:09 into the overtime had everyone talking though.

"We were not even shocked because he's been making those all year, but that was a huge save," Schwartz said of Elliott. "If it wasn't for him throughout the whole game, we wouldn't have been there. He made some big saves from start to finish and then obviously the one in OT was a game-saver."

The Kings broke in on a 2-on-1 after defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk fell down, Dustin Brown picked up the loose puck and he and Lucic went in, Brown fed Lucic and Elliott took care of the rest with his glove.

Elliott, who improved to 3-0-1 his past four starts against the Kings with a 0.48 goals-against average and .982 save percentage, hasn't decided yet where that one ranks among his best saves.

"I don't know; I've got to watch it afterwards," Elliott said, who is 5-0-1, with a 1.26 GAA and a .961 save percentage in his past six starts. "'Shatty' goes down on kind of a backwards toe-pick there and all you're trying to do is just play the 2-on-1 honest. I just tried to get over, didn't really know who's out there. Kind of let the body do the work and it ended up in the glove.

"It's kind of the 3-on-3 mentality. You gotta have the one big save to win. That's what you're trying to do, say this is your opportunity to make it. And then obviously 'Schwartzy' was kind of the last man back and went the other way on the next play. It's a huge game, especially for 'Schwartzy' to get back in there and score a big goal back like we need him to."

Robby Fabbri scored a first-period power-play goal for the Blues (34-17-9), who matched their season high by winning their fourth in a row. St. Louis is 5-0-1 in its past six games. Elliott continued his stellar play with 34 saves and improved to 11-3-2 in 16 starts since Jake Allen went down with a knee injury Jan. 8.

It's the first time in nine games the Blues have hit 30 shots in a game., and it was their 12th win of the season scoring two or fewer goals.

"I think it was a highly competitive 60 minutes," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Both teams poured so much into the game ... There wasn't much room out there. It was difficult getting anywhere. And yet it's a 2-1 hockey game and probably between the two teams, there's 35-40 scoring chances, which is incredible. Yet there's only three goals. Both goalies were outstanding." 

The Kings (33-20-4) lost their third in a row on a season-long seven-game trip; they're 2-3-1 with one game remaining Saturday at the Nashville Predators. Tyler Toffoli scored a power-play goal for the Kings early in the third period, and Quick made 30 saves.

The Kings lost center Anze Kopitar, whose last shift ended with 54 seconds remaining in the first period. He left with a lower-body injury and the Kings said he would be questionable for the remainder of the game but he did not return.

Sutter did not address Kopitar's situation, but it's suspected to be a recurring injury.

Toffoli tied the game when he took a quick pass from Jeff Carter and beat Elliott with a slap shot from the slot 3:25 into the third period, ending the Blues' string of 25 straight penalty kills; St. Louis came into the game No. 1 in the League.

The Kings were able to kill off a 5-on-3 Blues power play that lasted 1:54 when Luke Schenn was called for hooking Schwartz at 8:47 of the third and Jake Muzzin was sent off for delay of game six seconds later.

Elliott's right skate save on Kyle Clifford in tight off a rebound attempt with 5:56 remaining kept the game tied.

"The one in overtime wasn't as good as the two he made ... if you look at the two he made in the last five minutes of the third period, that got us to overtime," Hitchcock said. "If he doesn't make those two saves -- the pad save, and then the glove save -- we're not playing. We've got a tough loss that we've got to deal with." 

The Blues had the edge in territorial advantage in the first period, outshot the Kings 16-8 and went ahead on Fabbri’s power-play goal. 

Fabbri's 14th of the season came off a give-and-go with Jori Lehtera after Quick tripped Scottie Upshall to put the Blues on the power play. Fabbri worked into the right circle and beat Quick with a wrist shot at 11:32 for his third goal in four games. Rookie defenseman Colton Parayko got an assist and has five points in five games, including four assists.

"Coming in, there wasn't a lot of room in that spot so I wanted to get it off quick," Fabbri said. "I tried to get it upstairs in tight and it did."

The goaltenders excelled during a scoreless second period. Quick made the best save when he got a glove on Fabbri's breakaway bid with 1:47 remaining after Fabbri served Robert Bortuzzo's extra minor penalty for roughing. 
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Robby Fabbri (left) is being pursued by Kings' Jordan Nolan on Thursday.
Fabbri scored for the Blues in a 2-1 OT win.

Elliott was impressive making 13 saves, many on four Kings power plays in the period. 

It was the third game in a row the Blues led 1-0 heading into the third period; they’ve won each game 2-1, with two of the three wins in overtime.

"We defend really well," Schwartz said. "Our 'D' have been playing great. ... We make other teams earn anything in front of our net."

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