Saturday, October 8, 2016

Blues close out preseason with 2-1 win, lose Allen

Goalie leaves after first period with apparent 
lower-body injury; Pietrangelo nets game-winner

ST. LOUIS -- Wanting to play the final preseason game fluidly with most of their rostered players and wanting to get out of it without injury, the Blues didn't make it out unscathed in a 2-1 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks at Scottrade Center.

Alex Pietrangelo scored a power play goal 3:44 into the third period to help the Blues earn the victory, but with the regular season four days away, the focus is on goalie Jake Allen, who appeared to injure his left lower body.

Allen appeared to injure himself after teammate Carl Gunnarsson fell on the back of his left skate after being tripped up by the Blackhawks' Richard Panik trying to cover a puck by the near post. Allen winced when he went down. 
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues center Jori Lehtera (12) is being chased by Chicago's Andrew
Desjardins in preseason action Saturday at Scottrade Center.

Allen finished the first period, came back for the start of the second but departed in favor of Carter Hutton, who made 11 saves after Allen made six saves.

"We communicated right away that he was going to test it," Hutton said. "I kind of prepared like I was going to go in. He was going to give us the green light if he was going. He got out there, and just wasn't going to go, but at the same time it's just preseason, right? There's no point in really doing something bad to it."

Hitchcock had nothing to report afterwards.

"I haven't had a report, so we'll either let you guys know tomorrow or Monday, but I can't really tell you; nobody's said anything yet," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of Allen. "I'm not predicting the time. 

"I screwed up (Jaden) Schwartz's (injury timeline), so we'll let you know when they tell us."

Vladimir Tarasenko had a goal and an assist for the Blues (4-3-1).

Pietrangelo's goal was a thing of beauty for the Blues' captain. He worked a give-and-go with Tarasenko, pulled a toe-drag move on Blackhawks defenseman Gustav Forsling before beating Crawford with a wrist shot five-hole. 

"I was trying to do the 'Vladi' and I fell," Pietrangelo joked, referring to a move Tarasenko uses to cut to the middle. 

The Blues played most of their opening-night lineup to get one final test in before the regular season opens Oct. 12 in Chicago.

"It was obviously up and down a bit, but I think when you see and you come to the crunch of getting your group together, the chemistry starts building as the game goes on," Pietrangelo said. "The plays that you saw last year and you saw in training camp at times, that's what we saw tonight."

Dennis Rasmussen scored for the Blackhawks (2-4-0), and Corey Crawford made 19 saves.

Rasmussen tied the game for the Blackhawks, who were playing the majority of their team from Rockford of the American Hockey League. Rasmussen redirected Trevor van Riemsdyk's right point shot past Hutton inside the near post 3:05 into the second period.

Tarasenko will score a lot of goals for the Blues this season, and many of them will come in the fashion he scored in to give St. Louis a 1-0 lead. He took a faceoff draw won by Jori Lehtera, made quick work and whipped a wrist shot from the top of the left circle top shelf glove side on Crawford at 6:53 of the first period.

Hutton made the save of the game; fresh from coming into the game to start the second period, was put to the test early 2:19 into the period off a 2-on-1. Fortin took a pass into the low slot from Panik but Hutton went from his right to left and ssealed off the near side to preserve a 1-0 lead for the Blues.

The good thing about getting Hutton into the game was it gave him a chance to work with Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester for the first time.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
The Blues' Robby Fabbri (15) tries to protect the puck from Blackhawks
defenseman Gustav Forsling on Saturday.

"You might as well just take it easy and put 'Hutts' in there and let Jake just rest up," Pietrangelo said. "'Hutts' did a great job coming in. I never played with him before. He got the puck a couple times and he was making plays. I was like, 'Dude, I didn't know you could move the puck.' It was actually good that he was able to get in, too, because it gave 'Bouw' and I a chance to get some chemistry with him."

The Blues finished off the game killing a penalty and Chicago's 6-on-5 effort.

"I thought we did a lot of good things," Pietrangelo said. "There were some good stretches where we kept our habits we wanted to keep. Good test for us here going into Wednesday."

* NOTES -- Newly acquired forward Nail Yakupov arrived in St. Louis and watched the game from the press box. Yakupov, acquired in a trade from the Edmonton Oilers on Friday, will practice for the first time on Monday and be in the lineup on opening night, according to Hitchcock. ... Blues defenseman Joel Edmundson was kept out as a precautionary measure after he blocked a shot with his leg in a 4-2 loss to the Washington Capitals last Wednesday.

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