Win over Coyotes helps Blues’ playoff chances
Thursday, April 18, 2013
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Brian Elliott stopped all three chances in a shootout for the second straight game, bouncing back after a late goal denied him a fourth shutout this month, and the St. Louis Blues beat the Phoenix Coyotes 2-1 on Thursday night to step closer to a playoff berth.
Radim Vrbata’s power-play goal tied it with 1:07 to go. The Coyotes, who were blanked 4-0 on Monday by the Sharks, capitalized on a boarding penalty against Blues captain David Backes.
Andy McDonald was the first to go in the shootout and got the only goal, beating Chad Johnson.
David Perron scored his first goal in 17 games for the offensively challenged Blues, who have scored two or fewer goals in 12 of their last 16 games. They’ve won 10 of those games thanks to tight defense and strong play in goal. They are 5-1 in shootouts.
Elliott clinched it with a glove save against Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who set up the tying goal. Elliott also stopped three straight chances by the Canucks in a 2-1 shootout victory Tuesday night.
Several players were bunched in one corner when Ekman-Larsson dug the puck loose and fed it to a wide-open Vrbata, who faked his forehand and beat Elliott with a backhander.
The Blues have 52 points with five games to go, all but one at home. They entered seventh in the Western Conference and jumped a point ahead of Minnesota, which played later at San Jose.
Elliott, who was benched earlier in the season and sent on a conditioning stint in the minors, posted all three of his shutouts this season in successive road games at Detroit, Nashville and Minnesota.
Before Vrbata’s late goal, the Coyotes’ best chances came in late in the second period on shots off the goal post by Rob Klinkhammer and Zbynek Michalek.
The Blues swept the season series 3-0 from Phoenix, including a 6-3 victory March 7 at Phoenix that matched their season best for goals. They played it considerably closer to the vest in this one.
Perron’s stick was high enough for a review on his first-period deflection of David Backes’ shot from the point, but it was low enough to count for his first goal since March 12 against San Jose. He totaled four assists the previous 16 games and earned a point in consecutive games for the first time since he had two goals and three assists in a three-game span March 3-7 capped by a three-assist game at Phoenix.
Alex Pietrangelo got the second assist, giving him points in consecutive games for the first time since tallying two goals and three assists in a three-game stretch March 5, 7 and 9 at Los Angeles, Phoenix and San Jose.
Notes: The Coyotes have totaled five goals the last five games. ... The Blues needed overtime to reach 30 shots for the fourth straight game. ... Perron’s goal was the first by a Blues forward in four games. ... Vrbata totaled one assist the previous four games. ... Coyotes goalie Mike Smith missed his second straight game with a lower body injury.
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