Saturday, January 16, 2010

Polak, Steen fuel Blues' fourth straight win

Each net goal, assist to help St. Louis down struggling
Rangers 4-1; Mason collects 100th career win

ST. LOUIS -- Scottrade Center used to be a House of Horrors for the Blues this season. It didn't take long for it to turn into the House of Payne.

For the third time in as many games at Scottrade Center, the Blues' play in the final 20 minutes was the difference, as they outscored the struggling New York Rangers by three and breaking a tie in a 4-1 win over the Blueshirts before 19,150, the 19th sellout of the season.

Roman Polak and Alex Steen each scored a goal and added an assist, Keith Tkachuk added a pair of assists and Chris Mason earned his 100th career victory with 21 saves.

The win for the Blues (21-19-7) was their season-best fourth in a row, as they've outscored the opposition 5-0 in blanking their opponents in the third period for the third time in a row.

"We got back to St. Louis Blues hockey in the third," said Blues coach Davis Payne, who is 4-2-1. "... We're just sticking with the plan. We're not there to change our game in the third period. There would be some times when you have to if you're chasing the lead, but when you've got one, it's about keeping your feet moving, it's about moving in sync."

David Perron scored a power play goal and David Backes added am empty-netter as the Blues sent the reeling Rangers (22-19-7) to their fourth loss in five games (1-2-2) despite New York snapping a goal-less drought at 172 minutes.

"I certainly liked the result," Payne said. "We played a pretty solid first period, came off the gas a little bit in the second ... came out with a big win."

With a tie game in the third, the Blues got a goal to break a tie within the first minute of play, as Polak's shot from the right point deflected off Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi and past rookie Chad Johnson 45 seconds in to give the Blues a 2-1 lead. T.J. Oshie scored 26 seconds into the third period in Thursday's 1-0 win over Minnesota.

"I wasn't too happy about the shot, but somebody deflected it," Polak said. "I think it was their defenseman, but that is why I was mad because I thought I missed the shot and it was in the net."
Steen, who scored his eighth goal in the last nine home games and his seventh in 10 games overall, scored the goal of the night as he raced around the right edge, beating defenseman Michael Del Zotto around the goal and backhanding a shot off the back of a surprised Johnson 8 minutes, 31 seconds in to give the Blues a 3-1 lead.

"To be honest, I was going a little higher than what happened," Steen said of the shot. "I got kind of lucky, but it bounced off (Johnson's) back and went in. As I came around, I knew he was late coming over."

Perron gave the Blues a 1-0 lead, one-timing a shot home off a feed from Tkachuk, who won the faceoff in the Rangers zone that kept the puck in play.

The Rangers could only get one puck past Mason, a backhand from Brian Boyle after a turnover by Eric Brewer behind the Blues' goal 7:37 into the second period, but the Blues' netminder was able to make a key save on Marian Gaborik with 16:16 to play.

"The last month, we talked about getting extra saves," said Mason, who is 4-1-1 in his last six starts and lowered his goals-against average to 1.65. "I wasn't doing it the last month. Games are so close, and every game we seem to play is a tight game. Those saves make a difference and it was nice to be able to make them and keep the guys in."

Mason was modest about career win No. 100.

"I don't really take in personal milestones," Mason said, "especially when you're playing a team sport and we're in the position we're in right now. Maybe I'll look back and it'll be a little more special, but just winning games as a team is the biggest thing for me."

* NOTES -- The Rangers are one of two franchises the Blues have never shut out in their history, now spanning 127 games. Ottawa is the other. ... New York's last regulation loss on the road came on Nov. 28 when it lost to Pittsburgh 8-3. ... Blues RW T.J. Oshie skated in his 100th game. ... Steen has 10 points in 10 games. ... Cardinals ace pitcher Chris Carpenter was in attendance.

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