Coming off a shutout win in Dallas on Sunday, the Blues were looking for a solid effort against one of the biggest surprises in the Western Conference this year in the Calgary Flames. Brian Elliott was in net looking for a team record 21st shutout as a Blue and the teams 10th team shutout of the year, while the Flames were trying to hold on to their precarious playoff position in the Pacific Division.
The first period was exactly what one would expect from two teams looking to gain as many points in the standings as possible. Over the first ten minutes of the game neither team had many chances or shots on goal. The best opportunity for either side came on a partial break by Ryan Reaves, as he took a pass on the right side and rifled a shot in to Jonas Hiller's chest. The Blues did get a power play with about eight minutes to go in the first but were really unable to generate much in the way of shots.
The best sequence was when the Blues 4th line got a very efficient cycle going and handed it off to the 3rd line. Not many shots came out of it but a solid two minutes of possession in the offensive zone seemed to wear down Calgary and take a bit of their will out of the game. Reaves would drop the gloves with Brandon Bollig after laying a legal but a little high hit on Matt Stajan. The fight, much like the period was underwhelming at the start but ended with a flourish, with the two settling on a draw.
The second started much the way the first ended, with not much action. But a funny thing happened at the halfway point of the period, a game actually started. Jonas Hiller got things started by robbing Tarasenko of a goal off the faceoff with a sick glove save. Not to be out done, Elliott stood tall after a giveaway gave the Flames a wide open shot in the slot. Two and a half minutes later Alex Steen would take a hard pass from David Backes and found some space for this:
Now that there was a goal the game really opened up as 30 seconds later the Flames would pepper the Blues goal with shots. At one point the puck slides out front with an open net, only to have the Blues sweep it out to Schwartz for a quick two on one with Tarasenko. Hiller comes up huge yet again, sliding over to corral Vladi's chip shot and keeping the game close. Calgary would continue to hound Elliot the rest of the period but the Blues goalie was up to the task. The second ended with the Blues out shot 11-10 but with the most important stat, the lead.
The Flames are second in the league in comeback wins in the third and the Blues didn't want to add to that statistic so they came out flying in the third. The STL line got the scoring going with this nice tic-tac-tie play at 1:18
The Blues have started to perfect the goal of faceoff play this year and usually its Tarasenko with the rocket shot. Tonight it was the SOB Lines turn to run it and it gave Steen his second of the night.
Up until this point the Blues had played nearly a perfect game, including not taken a penalty, but then Paul Statsny took a slashing call with 8:30 to go in the game. Flames coach Bob Hartley did the unconventional, pulling Hiller for a 6 on 4 advantage with over eight minutes to go in the game. It almost backfired as David Backes stole the puck and slid a pass to Steen streaking down center ice. With a hat trick in sight, Steen fired the puck toward goal only to have shot block leader Kris Russell deflect it away.
The Blues killed the penalty and Hiller returned to his net, during an ongoing play, and you would have thought that was the last time he would leave it. But Hartley pulled him again on the next face off in the Blues zone and Backes said enough of this.
For the second game in a row the Blues scored three third period goals and they also had a goalie pitch a shutout. Elliott would record a team record 21st career Blues shutout and the win moved the Blues one point ahead of Nashville for first place in the Central after the Preds lost in a shootout to Minnesota. The Blues continue to have two games in hand on Nashville and will look to hang on to first when the travel to Winnipeg on Thursday. The Jets are coming off a big win against San Jose tonight to leap over Calgary for the last Wild Card spot.
3 - David Backes 1 Goal and 2 Assists
2 - Alexander Steen 2 Goals
1 - Brian Elliott 25 Saves, 21st Career Shutout as St. Louis Blue