Friday, November 19, 2010

Blues snap five-game slide, drop Senators

St. Louis improves to 7-0-1 on home ice with 5-2 victory

ST. LOUIS -- Once they figured it out, the Blues found that shots to the net without hesitation proved to be beneficial.

Down a goal and on their fourth power play, the Blues got back to doing what was winning games: pressure in the offensive zone, shots at the net and driving to the goal with conviction.

Scoring three times in a span of 1 minute, 26 seconds, the Blues finally were able to snap their five-game winless skid and Ty Conklin won his first game at Scottrade Center as a member of the Blues, who downed the Ottawa Senators 5-2 Friday night at Scottrade Center for their 11th consecutive win over an Eastern Conference foe dating back to last season.

Brad Boyes -- with his fourth goal in four games, Carlo Colaiacovo and Eric Brewer with his first point of the season snapped in goals for the Blues, who were 0-4-1 in their last five after winning seven in a row.

Patrik Berglund and Andy McDonald also scored for the Blues, who are now 7-0-1 on home ice and are the league's only team without a regulation loss at home.

But with all the good things that happened from the midway point of the game for the Blues, it was the gritty work of Brad Winchester that coach Davis Payne says ignited the squad.

Winchester, playing on the third line for the first time this season with Jay McClement and B.J. Crombeen, used a shift that led to the Blues' fourth power play. His grit and relentless effort around the Ottawa goal lit the fire that got the team going.

"Brad Winchester got out on a shift, got physical, established puck possession, established a determination level and made a great statement to our hockey club on how we're capable of playing regardless of what's happened in the past few games," Payne said. "I really felt that that shift ignited our club. It got us on the power play. It took us to the (fourth) power play to get the goal and get the game tied up, but he made a great statement there for our hockey club. I think that that's what propelled us. Obviously, the Boyes goal on the power play was the result of that, but a lot of credit to Winny getting us started there."

The Blues (10-5-3) trailed 1-0 at the time on a goal by the guy married to country-western singer Carrie Underwood -- Mike Fisher. They needed some sort of fire to get the team going towards that positive direction it had early in the season.

"It's an opportunity to control the puck down low," Winchester said. "I was able to take the puck weak-side and get a better stuff opportunity. It's something that is a part of my game, which is taking the puck to the net. ... It was a good shift."

On the ensuing power play, the Blues were able to discover their shooting touch and getting those shots off without hesitation. Boyes, in his customary position in the left circle, had a puck perfectly carom to him after Alex Pietrangelo's right point shot was partially tipped by David Backes to Boyes. Boyes hammered home his fifth of the season that started a string of three goals in 1:26.

"I'm getting a few good bounces," Boyes said. "... I was making sure that one goes in. It's good. I try not to think, just go out there and work. Sometimes, the bounces don't go. They're going so far. ... You've got to be in the right spot and when you're feeling it, you're going in the right spots and working to get there."

The Blues came into the game with four goals by defensemen all season and got two in a 35-second span from Colaiacovo and Brewer. Colaiacovo now has half of the defensive goal output of six. His goal came at 11:04 of the second period for a 2-1 lead and Brewer got his first at 11:39 on a wrister that had eyes, beating Brian Elliott high.

"It's great to be on the score sheet," Brewer said. "The D have been up the ice and making a lot of good plays. I don't know if we've really gotten rewarded for the work that's been done. That's the way it goes and we're working on it. Tonight, we got a little bit of action off of it, which is good for everybody."

The Blues were in position to take control because early in the game, Conklin, who was 0-6 as a member of the Blues in this building a season ago and last saw action here Feb. 4 of last season, made some key stops to keep the game within reach.

Conklin, whose last 11 starts were on the road, stopped sniper Alex Kovalev on an early 2-on-1, then making another key save on Fisher's attempt as the Senators (9-10-1) were buzzing early on.

"It was nice to get in the game early," said Conklin, who last won in this building with Detroit on Oct. 22, 2008. "Even though we ended up down 1-0 at the end of the first, I felt as the period went along, we started controlling the play a little bit more. Then we opened it up there in the second, but overall, it was a 60-minute game that we've been looking for. Maybe we didn't start quite how we wanted to, but that was about a five-minute thing. We got going with our game right away.

"I saw the puck well because I could see the puck. I was seeing everything, clear shooting lanes and when there was traffic in front of the net, we were doing a good job of getting in lanes and blocking shots. It makes it a lot easier."

McDonald's 150th career goal was one that should make NHL Network's top goals of the night, an end-to-end rush along the right side, curling around Ottawa d-man Filip Kuba before pulling up in front of Elliott and beating the Senators netminder upstairs.

"I thought Andy Mac's line skated incredibly, especially him," Brewer said. "I think it was able to push the pace of the game, which is what we like to do."

Berglund netted a power play goal as the Blues held a two-man advantage.

"We have to build off this certainly," Conklin said. "One game doesn't get you off of it. You've got to keep working."

The Blues have no time to marvel. They host the slumping New Jersey Devils at 7 p.m. today.

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