Thursday, March 30, 2017

Blues don't clinch, move into third in Central with 3-1 win over Coyotes

Kings win prevents St. Louis from punching ticket to Stanley 
Cup Playoffs; Hutton solid in goal, Berglund ties career-high for goals

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Blues didn't punch their ticket into the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Wednesday, but another win moved them up the standings, which was equally as important.

The Blues defeated the Arizona Coyotes for the third time in 18 days, this time winning 3-1 at Gila River Arena for their 11th win in 13 games (11-1-1), and although the Blues (42-28-6) didn't clinch because of the Los Angeles Kings' 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames, they did move back into third place in the Central Division, one ahead of Nashville (90-89) and with the Flames' loss, should the Blues fall back into wild card contention, they would be ahead of the Flames because of having more regulation/overtime wins (41-39). The Blues and Flames are tied with 90 points each.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues goalie Carter Hutton (middle) makes one of his 22 saves in a 3-1
victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday.

"Just focus on our job and like we said before, we want to make the playoffs, but we want to make sure that we're a good team going in," Blues coach Mike Yeo said.

So now the scenario is the Blues will clinch with any point.

"We try just to control what we can," said goalie Carter Hutton, who picked up the win Wednesday. "We can't control what L.A. does, but we can control what we do in this room. We didn't do it tonight, but we're going to go into Colorado and look to do it there."

Hutton continued his recent mastery since Mike Yeo took over as coach, winning for the fifth time in six starts and pitching a 22-save win and falling 5 minutes, 23 seconds from a fifth road shutout.

Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Tarasenko and David Perron scored for the Blues, with Tarasenko getting one for Arianna Dougan, the 11-year-old battling cancer but who along with her mother Lori Zucker is a guest of Tarasenko's on this two-game trip that concludes Friday in Colorado.

Berglund had a goal and an assist and matched his career high in goals for a season with 22, also set in the 2010-11 season.

"I'll be more impressed if he breaks it," Yeo said of Berglund's career-matching goals for a season. "I thought his whole line was really strong tonight. They definitely deserved to be out there and get that goal at the end of the game because they got robbed a number of times.

"Their puck possession and their play in the offensive zone was really strong, so I'm happy for them, Bergy's played really good hockey for us here for a long time. There's a lot more than just the goal-scoring that's gone on, too. Obviously he's adding a lot to our group. They were using each other well and generating a lot of zone time."

The win over the Coyotes (27-41-9) was the Blues' 11th straight against Arizona, outscoring the Coyotes 45-14, and they've earned points in 15 straight (14-0-1).

In a game reminiscent of the one played here 11 days ago, the Blues dominated the first period and shot clock (16-7 on Wednesday and 15-3 on March 18) and like 11 days ago, only led 1-0 on Berglund's 22nd the season, which matches his career high.

Colton Parayko kept a puck in right at the blue line, got it to Magnus Paajarvi, who fed Berglund in the left circle and Berglund beat Louis Domingue top shelf at 9:16 of the first period.

"Great play by 'Mags' and 'Pary' to keep that in," Berglund said. "I basically had a pretty open net to begin with. I've scored harder goals."

The Blues continued the pressure and got a quick one to begin the second on Tarasenko's team-leading 36th of the season. With Arianna watching from a private suite, Tarasenko followed up Jay Bouwmeester's shot from the point, got a rebound and beat Domingue from the low left circle 2:25 into the second for a 2-0 lead.

The Blues had a 30-13 shot advantage after two periods, but the game was still somewhat in the balance.

"I thought our first two periods were pretty good, but then we kind of stepped off the gas a little but," defenseman Joel Edmundson said. "Thankfully, 'Hutty' had our backs. All around, I thought it was a good group effort and that's the result we're going to get when we play a solid game.

"We were just bearing down, getting pucks out of our zone, getting pucks deep."

Alex Goligoski got the Coyotes on the board after a Magnus Paajarvi high sticking penalty on a shot from the left circle that somehow got through Hutton with 5:23 remaining, and Swansea, Ill. native Clayton Keller got an assist on the play for his first NHL point in his second NHL game. 

But Perron's empty-net power-play goal, his 100th goal as a member of the Blues, came with 19.8 seconds remaining on the Blues' season-high 43rd shot; their previous high was 41 here March 18.

"I thought we were really good and then I thought parts we kind of started to open up a little and started to open up," Hutton said. "When we did play our 5-on-5 hockey, I felt we dominated pretty well. They capitalized on the power play there, but same thing like the odd break, they're pretty good off the rush and I think from there, their goalie had a helluva game. It shouldn't have been 3-1, but he was really good."
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Vladimir Tarasenko (middle) celebrates with teammates Jay Bouwmeester
and Alex Pietrangelo after scoring against Arizona on Wednesday.

The Blues peppered Domingue with 42 shots, and he stopped 40 of them.

"He was really good," Yeo said. "We generated a lot of shots, we generated a lot of opportunities, quality chances that I think could have given us an opportunity to put that game away. We didn't do it, but I think there were some parts in the game that were very good and some parts that we have to be better at."

In winning 11 of 13, the Blues have now outscored the opposition 41-19 and take their road show on to Denver to face the Colorado Avalanche for the third time this month -- all at Pepsi Center.

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