Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Blues snap losing skid with 4-1 win against Coyotes

Steen, Shattenkirk each with goal, assist; 
Paajarvi, Lindbohm play strong in victory

ST. LOUIS -- Two points is two points.

No matter how the Blues get it, that's the objective.

It wasn't exactly a Picasso, but the Blues built on what they're trying to get back to, and in the end, it resulted in a 4-1 victory against the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday at Scottrade Center.

Kevin Shattenkirk and Alexander Steen each had a goal and an assist to help the Blues end a three-game losing streak while extending Arizona's to five.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Carl Gunnarsson (4), Alexander Steen and Kevin Shattenkirk (22) come
together to celebrate Steen's shorthanded goal vs. Arizona on Tuesday. 

The Blues (16-8-4) also got goals from Vladimir Tarasenko and David Backes; they were was 0-2-1 in the past three games. Jake Allen made 22 saves; he is 5-0-0 in his career against Arizona. 

The Blues scored more than three goals for the first time in 14 games.

"I thought our start was good," Steen said. "I know we didn't have any shots for a while, but right from our first shift that was in their zone for about a minute and a half and then we killed two big penalties. You have to look at that as a pretty big positive and a good start to your game. Then after that we started to get into the rhythm of things and I think for the 60 minutes, it was solid effort. I liked the tempo where we played at tonight. It was a lot quicker than we have in the last little while and that’s a big part as to why we won this one."

The Coyotes (13-14-1), who got a goal from Steve Downie, have lost five in a row, all on the road. They were outscored 24-10 on the trip. Mike Smith made 18 saves for the Coyotes, who scratched center Martin Hanzal with a lower-body injury; he's listed as day-to-day.

Trailing 1-0, the Blues took the lead in the second period when Tarasenko tied it with his 16th of the season and Steen scored shorthanded late in the period. 

Tarasenko took a pass from Magnus Paajarvi, who led Tarasenko in alone on Smith from inside the Coyotes blue line before he scored on a wrist shot 5:08 into the period.

"He called it before I got the puck from (Jay Bouwmeester)," Paajarvi said of Tarasenko. "I looked up a little bit and he came down 200 miles an hour and I just tried getting it to an area where he can get it. It was a nice goal." 

The Blues got good play from Paajarvi playing on the top line with Tarasenko and Paul Stastny. It showed in many aspects.

"His speed in small spaces," Blues coack Ken Hitchcock said of Paajarvi. "He's a quick player in room, but he uses quickness in small spaces. He held onto the puck and opened up lots of scoring and shooting space for 'Vladi.' That's a good line. You've got two guys that can really skate and stretch the ice and with Magnus hanging onto the puck in the offensive zone, it creates problems because he's a guy that can create his own one on one space and that opens up space for either Stas or Vladi."

Paajarvi's teammates were impressed.

"I thought 'Mags' was first star tonight. He was terrific," Steen said. "I think we should be happy with this one," Steen said. "You score four on a very structured hockey club over there. 'Jakey' was great in the net. It was a good effort."

Paajarvi, who played 13:19, wants to build on this.

"It's a big challenge and you've got to take it," Paajarvi said. "You can't just go out there and do OK. You've got to try and grab it. It's a big challenge, but that's where I want to be; that's where I want to be in the future as well. You've got to grab it.

"I felt good out there. I think we created a whole lot. We probably should have scored a little bit more on our line."

Steen gave the Blues a 2-1 lead with 8.8 seconds left after a pass from Shattenkirk. Shattenkirk blocked an Oliver Ekman-Larsson shot then sprung out of the zone 2-on-1, and his cross-ice feed gave Steen a chance to step into a one-time slap shot through Smith. It was the Blues' first shorthanded goal of the season and first goal for the Blues other than by Tarasenko in 145:18.

"It did feel good," said Steen, who has a six-game point streak against Arizona with three goals and six assists. "It was a good time in the game to get one too. I thought we’d been battling hard and to get one like that was nice. It was a great pass by 'Shatty,' a terrific pass by 'Shatty.'"

Once Shattenkirk blocked the shot, there was a clear path for a 2-on-1.

"I think right away when I looked up and saw it was a 2-on-1, I was able to settle in a little bit and realize that I had some support," Shattenkirk said. "As I was coming down, I could tell (Ekman-Larsson) was going to kind of lay and try to get in that passing lane. Luckily the pass landed perfectly for (Steen). That's something that was fortunate for me.

"The crazy thing was how well (Steen) waited on it and was able to just be patient with it and let it fall on his stick. He gets a lot of good wood on it."

Steen said, "We were aggressive that whole PK trying to limit their time and space and then 'Shatty' made a great read and took off and waited for me to catch up."

The Coyotes thought they tied the game with 2.6 seconds left when they took the faceoff, got into the Blues zone quickly and Anthony Duclair scored, but Tobias Rieder crashed into Allen after being tripped up by Alex Pietrangelo. Referee Steve Kozari immediately waved off the goal.

"If there would have been a penalty on Rieder, then the goal would have counted but there was no penalty called," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "So the goaltender could not make (a play on the puck) ... Rieder took (Allen) out. So in looking at it, it was probably the right call." 

Shattenkirk finished a Jori Lehtera backhand pass through the slot and beat Smith 6:53 into the third period for a 3-1 lead.

Lehtera got a puck from Robby Fabbri, spun away from a trio of Coyotes players before a no-look backhand feed through the crease.

"Jori, I think he's phenomenal at making those no-look passes," Shattenkirk said. "He locks eyes with me right before it and looks away. That allows me to sneak down the back door."

Backes scored an empty-net goal with 1:02 remaining. 

Downie's third goal in five games against the Blues came off a wrist shot from Jordan Martinook, Downie, parked in front of Allen, had his initial deflection stopped but he collected the rebound and swept it past the Blues' goalie 12:12 into the first period.

Arizona outshot the Blues 9-3, but Hitchcock felt the volume the Blues built up helped their game moving forward.

"We had (18) attempts at the net, which is the start of it," Hitchcock said. "We've got to get back into the 60's again between shots blocked, attempted shots, shots on goal. We've got to be in the 60's and we've been sitting in the 40's. We got closer tonight. The third period was obviously our best period."

Hitchcock felt the Backes line with Steen and Troy Brouwer really moved the team game along.

"The way Backes' line showed up in the second half of the game made a huge difference for us, and quite frankly our best players were our best players. We needed to get back on the right track, we needed our best players to be our best players. If you look at who scored the goals, you look at who played well, it's all guys that had been through this before.

They just bring weight and skill and it wears on people. That's exactly what happened. The line they played against, in 5-on-5, they just wore them down, they got on the grind and they wore them down."
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Magnus Paajarvi (56) moves the puck past Arizona defenseman Stefan
Elliott on Tuesday in the Blues' 4-1 victory at Scottrade Center.

Petteri Lindbohm made his season debut and played 15:29.

"He was really good tonight," Hitchcock said. "I was really impressed. I was really impressed with his composure with the puck. 'Shawsy' (associate coach Brad Shaw) saw the same thing because for a first-year guy we played him 16 minutes 5 on 5 tonight and even a little bit of PK ... He was more energy and a little bit erratic before because he was a young guy trying to sort it out. He seems so much calmer now, he's got the same bite which really helps us, but he seems so much calmer with the puck making the good decisions. If this is the effort that he's going to bring forward, this is good stuff for us.

"He was more energy and a little erratic before because he was a young guy trying to sort it out. He seems so much calmer now; he's got the same bite, which really helps us, but he seems so much calmer with the puck and making the good decisions. If this is the effort that he's going to bring forward this is good stuff for us."

No comments:

Post a Comment