Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Blues make it five in a row with 1-0 win at Nashville

Elliott earns second straight shutout; Steen nets lone goal

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Brian Elliott got the best birthday present from his teammates Tuesday night: a light work night.

Elliott, who was instrumental in Sunday's shutout win in Detroit, faced only 15 shots and was given one goal to work with again.

Alexander Steen's second-period goal would be all the offense Elliott would need again, as the Blues made it a season-best five wins in a row after fending off the injury-depleted Nashville Predators 1-0 at Bridgestone Arena.

The shutout streak for the Blues has reached 141 minutes 24 seconds and for Elliott, it's a personal 129:31 shutout streak. 
(St. Louis Blues photo)
The Blues' Patrik Berglund (left) hovers over Nashville goalie
 Pekka Rinne in Tuesday's 1-0 win at Bridgestone Arena.
"Seriously. Yeah, I'll take that any birthday for sure," said Elliott, who turned 28 Tuesday and lowered his goals-against to 2.89 and .884 save percentage. "Getting a win in this building ... they play well here, the crowd gets into it. It's kind of a gritty win. The puck was bouncing. Not too many pretty plays out there, but I'll take that win any day of the week."

The Blues (22-14-2) jumped into a tie for sixth place with 44 points after Minnesota fell 1-0 at home to Chicago. The Blues are now one point behind San Jose, which also lost 4-0 at Columbus Tuesday, for fifth place in the Western Conference and they trail fourth-place Los Angeles, a 5-1 loser at Dallas Tuesday, by just two points with games in hand on all the teams they're chasing.

"We were in the playoff picture for a while, and then teams were catching us and we were looking over our shoulders," said Elliott, who has won four in a row to improve to 7-6-1 while collecting his 11th shutout as a Blue, 20th of his career. "Now we've got to look up and catch other teams. That's the way you want to do it. You want to be on your toes and going after teams, not just hoping that they're not winning."

Steen, who scored his seventh of the season and first in eight games, grabbed a pass from Vladimir Sobotka, skated into the left circle and ripped a shot that caught a part of Pekka Rinne's pad but blew through the five-hole.

"That was the situation I read, let it go," Steen said. "We just stuck with our game. ... I thought we did a decent job of playing our game today."

After outshooting the Predators (15-18-8) by a 6-4 count in the first period, the Blues really limited Nashville's chances the rest of the way and took away much of the ice in the defensive zone.

"As a defenseman, you felt like you spent a lot of time in the other end, which is always pretty nice," said defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, who along with newly acquired Jordan Leopold have not lost since joining the Blues' lineup. "Maybe after the first period, we started shooting the puck more and cycling it a little bit more and created some chances. Any time you don't give anything up, when you only give up (15) shots, that's pretty good.

"I think that's a credit to our forwards the way they cycled the puck, held onto it, didn't panic with it in their end. There weren't any turnovers, and that's where a lot of it comes from. If you turn the puck over, they're coming the other way. I thought it was a pretty solid effort."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock agreed.

"The second and third were really good," Hitchcock said. "We kind of were a little loose in the first. It was a skating game in the first period, but I really liked the way we played in the second and third. I thought we were outstanding. I thought we checked hard. They work hard. ... I thought we earned it tonight. We created our forecheck. We created our possession game in the second and third period."
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues teammates celebrate the lone goal scored Tuesday night by
Alex Steen (20), who's surrounded by (from left to right) Jay
Bouwmeester, David Perron, Alex Pietrangelo and Vladimir Sobotka.
The Blues, who only trail the Blackhawks in road wins this season in the conference (16 to 13), have won four of the five straight games on the road and are now 9-3-3 in their last 15 against the Predators, whose playoff chances are on life support.

"We've been consistent and confident," Steen said. "I think we still can lift ourselves a couple more notches."

"I think we feel pretty comfortable now," Bouwmeester said. "Just playing some games will do that. When you win, it obviously feels better. That's helped too."

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