Elliott makes 24 saves, Blues beat Sharks 1-0
Sunday, December 11, 2011
ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis goalie Brian Elliott is taking his recent streak in stride.
“I’m satisfied, but I’m not too high on myself,” Elliott said. “Sometimes you feel it, sometimes you don’t.”
Elliott made 24 saves for his fourth shutout of the season, and Kevin Shattenkirk scored on a 5-on-3 power play in the St. Louis Blues’ 1-0 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.
The Blues have won seven of the last nine games to improve to 11-2-3 since Ken Hitchcock took over as coach following the firing of Davis Payne. St. Louis has points in 14 of the last 16 games.
St. Jose lost for the fifth time in seven games. The Sharks were 10-2-1 in their previous 13 games in St. Louis.
Elliott, tied for the NHL shutout lead with Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick, has won eight of his last nine starts to improve to 12-2. He leads the NHL with a 1.45-goals against average and a .947 save percentage.
Elliott has allowed two goals or fewer in 13 of 14 starts. He has 13 career shutouts.
“I’m not asking any questions, I’m just going out there and playing,” Elliott said. “You have to take (the win), put it in your back pocket and move on to the next game.”
While Elliott prefers to downplay the best run of his five-year career, his teammates marvel at his performance. Signed to back up Jaroslav Halak on July 1, Elliott has given coach Ken Hitchcock two viable options in goal.
“He seems to always be our best player in the third period,” Shattenkirk said. “When we’re up by a goal, he’s always there to make a huge save.”
St. Louis defenseman Barret Jackman says Elliott’s ability to anticipate the opposition is the key to his success.
“He does a great job moving with the puck,” Jackman said. “He made some great side-to-side saves. And when there’s a rebound, he smothers it.”
Elliott made 11 saves in the final period.
“He made two huge saves in the last 5 minutes of the third period that really held it together for us.” Hitchcock said.
Shattenkirk, who sat out Thursday night against Anaheim because of the flu, scored the lone goal of the game with 26 seconds left in the first period. It was Shattenkirk’s fourth goal of the season and the Blues’ first 5-on-3 power-play tally this season.
“I just saw the lane and I decided to let it go,” Shattenkirk said. “We both played some good team defense out there, but luckily one goal was the difference.”
The Sharks have lost three of four and were unable to get untracked offensively. They were 0 for 6 on the power play and have one goal in their last 26 chances.
It was kind of an April-May game,” San Jose coach Todd McLellan said. “A lot of tight checking, a lot of playoff-style grinding along the boards. There were not a lot of chances for either team.”
San Jose goalie Antti Niemi made 18 saves and fell to 11-6-1.
The game was the first head-to-head meeting between David Perron and San Jose center Joe Thornton since Perron sustained concussion-like symptoms from a high hit by Thornton on Nov. 4, 2010. Perron missed 97 games and returned to lineup Dec. 3.
Thornton was jeered by the fans every time he touched the puck throughout the first period. Ryane Clowe, Logan Couture and Dan Boyle led the Sharks with three shots each.
“It was a tight game,” Clowe said. “A lot of touch and grab.”
St. Louis improved to 11-3-1 at home.
NOTES: St. Louis winger Matt D’Agostini left in the third period with an upper-body injury and did not return. Hitchcock says D’Agostini will not miss any time ... The teams combined for just nine shots on goal in a tight-checking first period. ... The Blues have scored first in 10 of the last 14 games, going 10-2-2. ... Shattenkirk appeared in his 100th NHL game. ... St. Louis is 8-2-1 at home under Hitchcock. ... The Sharks have won 18 of 26 games in St. Louis since the start of the 2005-06 season.
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