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Recap: New Lines? No Problem!

With injuries forcing star players out, Hitch shuffles lines and secures playoff spot.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Blues limped into tonight's match-up with Calgary searching. Searching for a first period goal, searching for consistency in play and most important searching for a playoff spot. While one game won't answer all the questions surrounding the team, tonight was a good step in the right direction.

Problem #1 - Scoring a goal in the first period, the Blues hadn't scored a first period goal in the last ten games; March 10th against Winnipeg.

Solution - Jaden Schwartz has had just about enough of people talking about that stat and he figured to get that problem solved early on in this game. Schwartz would battle with TJ Oshie and two Flames in the corner less then two minutes into the game and produce this slick goal:

This was the first Blues first period goal in well over 200 minutes of first period play and after getting a sniff of scoring the Blues wanted more. They pounded Jonas HIller all period long but could get nothing else by him.

Near the end of the period, "hockey player", Brandon Bollig delivered a nasty elbow to the back of Barret Jackman's head causing him to go face first into the glass. As Jackman lay on the ice Robert Bortuzzo took exception and further endeared himself to Blues fans by jumping right in and laying some licks on Bollig. When the dust settled, Jackman was bloodied up, Bortuzzo received an instigator, and Bollig would hit the showers for an early night.

Problem #2 - Consistency in game play. In losing five of their last six games the Blues were outscored 20-11 and outplayed in almost every aspect of the game.

Solution - The Blues started the second period with a three minute power play and promptly went to work on one of their most complete periods of the season. Less then half a minute in, Schwartz, Backes and Statsny walked in and tic-tac-toed the puck through the Flames leading to Stastny finally knocking the puck in for a 2-0 lead.

Not to be outdone the Flames top of line of Monahan, Hudler and Gaudreau would answer back three minutes later with this nice deflection by Monahan:

As the period wore on, though, the Blues exerted their will on this game, pushing shot after shot at Hiller and the Flames. Unlike previous games against Calgary, not as many of the shots were blocked by defensmen and Hiller had to come up with save after save to keep his team in it. While the Blues were not able to slip anything more past Hiller, the tide of the game turned fully to the Blues in the second and they finished the period out shooting Calgary 18-4.

Problem # 3 - Clinching a Playoff Spot. Blues were looking to stay ahead of Chicago and clinch a fourth straight playoff appearance.

Solution - The Blues came out and kept pressuring Calgary right away in the third as they continued to make Hiller work for the one goal deficit. Midway through the third the Blues got in to some penalty trouble as Shattenkirk and then Berglund were sent off to give Calgary back to back power plays. But Jake Allen showed why he is going to be the future number one goalie with two huge pads saves at the 11:46 mark to keep the lead secure.

Hiller, though, was keeping up with Allen even more impressively as he shut down a Backes shorthanded breakaway attempt and making one glove save after another. The Blues finally wore him down as Lethera fought to keep the puck in the zone with 3:30 to go in the period and Berglund picked it up and rounded the net. Bergs slid a pass through the crease, hitting the goal stick and sliding right to Lethera who backhanded the 3rd goal of the night over the glove that had given the Blues fits all night.

The Blues would ice the game a minute later as Lethera returned the favor to Berglund, slipping a pass to the middle of the ice for an easy empty netter. The 4-1 final gave the Blues 101 points, a clinch of a playoff spot and the opportunity to still catch and pass Nashville for the Central title. Jake Allen would win his 20th game, giving the Blues two 20+ win goalies, a feat Elliott accomplished with Jaroslav Halak a few years ago.

The Blues travel to Dallas tomorrow night before hitting possibly their toughest stretch of the season facing Chicago, Winnipeg, Chicago again and Minnesota to determine playoff seeding and home ice.

Three Stars

#3 - Jaden Schwartz: 1 Goal, 1 Assist. Broke First Period Scoreless Drought

#2 - Jake Allen: Stopped 17 of 18 shots for his 20th victory of the year

#1 - Paul Statsny: 1 Goal, 1 Assist. Also won 64% of his faceoffs centering a brand new line