Elliott saves the day for St. Louis
Thursday, February 9, 2012
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Brian Elliott was perfect in long relief as the St. Louis Blues pulled out another victory against an Eastern Conference team.
T.J. Oshie scored the only goal in the shootout and Brian Elliott stopped every shot he faced as the St. Louis Blues beat New Jersey 4-3 on Thursday night to end the Devils’ five-game winning streak.
Oshie, the first shooter for the Blues, fooled Devils goalie Johan Hedberg with an off-speed shot that trickled through his pads.
Elliott, who came on to replace Jaroslav Halak in the second period, stopped Ilya Kovalchuk, Patrik Elias and Zach Parise. Elliott also stopped all 15 shots in regulation and overtime.
“You have to be prepared all the time,” Elliott said. “We kind of struggled to start the game and didn’t give Jaro much help. The change was as much to shake things up and get us going a little bit.”
The move by Blues coach Ken Hitchcock certainly paid off as Elliott responded to the challenge.
“It’s a little bit tough but it also makes it easier in that you are not thinking about the game all day,” Elliott said. “You just go in, play your game and whatever happens, happens.”
Chris Stewart, David Perron and Patrik Berglund scored for the Blues, who improved to 11-0-2 against the Eastern Conference.
Parise, Adam Henrique and Elias scored for the Devils, who suffered a rare loss in a shootout where they are 9-3. The Blues are only 2-6 in shootouts.
“It’s a tough one to lose but they are a really good team in the Western Conference,” Parise said. “I thought we did pretty well against them.”
Hedberg made 23 saves, getting the start as Martin Brodeur was scratched after twisting his right ankle on Tuesday in a 1-0 shutout of the Rangers in New York. The Devils called up Jeff Frazee from the minors to be the backup.
Parise and Stewart scored as the teams deadlocked at 1-1 after one period with both goals coming in the final minutes.
Blues defenseman Barret Jackman was whistled for delay of game for flipping the puck into the stands from his own end. The Devils cashed in the power play as Parise took a cross-ice feed from Kovalchuk and fired a shot from below the right circle that deflected off Halak’s glove and popped behind him at 16:46. The goal, his 21st, extended Parise’s point-scoring streak to seven games.
The Blues answered with 1:17 remaining as Stewart used his long reach to swat a shot past Hedberg before Devils defensemen Kurtis Foster and Matt Taormina could clear.
Perron scored 4:50 into the second as the Blues took a 2-1. With a delayed penalty about to be called on New Jersey, Perron ripped a shot past Hedberg for his third goal in two games.
The Devils got the next two for a 3-2 lead.
Henrique beat Halak from the left circle only 45 seconds later to pull the Devils even.
Elias put New Jersey back in front, working a give-and-go with Kovalchuk deep in the Blues end. Elias deposited the return feed at 9:12, also extending his point-scoring streak to seven. That was the last shot Halak faced as Brian Elliott came on in relief.
St. Louis wasted a golden opportunity when Foster got a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for boarding Chris Porter only 1:15 into the third period
The Devils penalty killers had as many good scoring chances as the Blues power play. Henrique had the most dangerous bid, a short-handed breakaway that Elliott dove to stop.
Perron picked up tripping minor at 5:10, wiping out the remainder of the power play.
The Blues did get the equalizer at 14:10 as Berglund chopped a high, floating point shot from Roman Polak past Hedberg, a goal confirmed by a video review.
That set the stage for Oshie to decide the contest in the shootout.
“It was a real character win by the boys tonight,” Oshie said. “After the first two periods, we were lucky to be down by only a goal. To come out, having a big third period and battle all the way through to the shootout was big for us.”
The loss was a disappointment for the Devils, who seemingly had it under control until Berglund’s goal.
“We played a solid game, did a lot of good things,” Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. “I thought we had a number of good chances to put the game away but we just didn’t capitalize. They made some saves down the stretch and we let them hang around.”
Notes: C Travis Zajac, working on a second comeback from an Achilles tendon injury, should resume skating in about a week and could be back in the Devils’ lineup in a month. Zajac, sidelined most of the season, was first injured during off-ice training in August and underwent surgery. He returned on Dec. 16 and played eight games before soreness in the area of the Achilles tendon flared up. He was shut down after the Devils’ game on Jan. 2. ... Devils C Ryan Carter missed a fourth straight game with a non-displaced hand fracture. ... The game marked Jamie Langenbrunner’s first game in New Jersey since the trade that sent him to Dallas last season. The former Devils captain signed with the Blues over the summer.
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