Penguins beat Blues 3-2
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Chris Kunitz scored the deciding goal on a backhander in the fourth round of a shootout and the Pittsburgh Penguins took a seven-game winning streak into the All-Star break with a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night.
Patrik Berglund ended a seven-game point drought with a pair of goals and tied it on a penalty shot early in the third period for the Blues, who erased a two-goal, second-period deficit. They’re an NHL-best 21-3-4 at home and 9-0-2 against the Eastern Conference, recovering for a point one night after missing a chance to grab the overall NHL lead in a loss at Detroit.
NHL scoring leader Evgeni Malkin got the other shootout goal for the Penguins after getting shut down by the Blues’ top line, headed by David Backes. Malkin had totaled nine goals and 13 points in a six-game goal streak.
T.J. Oshie scored in the shootout for St. Louis.
Pittsburgh’s winning streak has followed a six-game skid — its longest since 2006. It marks a season best for the Penguins, who went to overtime for the third time and fourth in five games. The last three meetings between St. Louis and Pittsburgh have gone to overtime.
The Blues were short-handed when Oshie stole the puck from Kris Letang in the neutral zone and passed to Berglund, who was motoring up the middle before getting hooked by Letang in the slot. Berglund is 0-for-7 for his career in the shootout, but was slick on the penalty shot, giving Marc-Andre Fleury an inside deke before scoring on a high wrist shot off the forehand to make it 2-all.
Fleury played in his 22nd consecutive game, three more than his previous high, heading into the break. He was particularly strong the final few minutes.
Neal scored his 27th goal, matching his career best, as the Penguins capitalized on a holding penalty to Backes early in the second. It also was the 100th career goal for Neal, whose one-timer trickled between Elliott’s pads.
The Blues have allowed four power-play goals in the last three games.
The Penguins made it 2-0 at 12:16 on a midair deflection by Steve Sullivan, who batted the puck in after defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo whiffed. Deryk Engelland started the play with a wrist shot from the point and the puck appeared to bounce off the skate of a Blues player on its way to the net.
Berglund’s first point in eight games came on a 2-on-1 break with Chris Stewart and cut the deficit to one at 15:16.
The Penguins had to sweat out the end of regulation after Matt Cooke drew a boarding call on a hit that rammed defenseman Barret Jackman’s head into the glass.
Notes: Neal has six goals and five assists in the last seven games. He scored 26 goals in 2009-10 with Dallas. ... The Penguins had a 39-34 shots edge and have outshot their last 15 opponents. ... The penalty-shot goal was the Blues’ first since Backes vs. the Sharks’ Antero Niittymaki on Dec. 18, 2010. ... The Blues are the only team in the NHL to get at least one point in every game against the opposite conference. ... Malkin is 5-for-7 in the shootout.
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