After scoring just a single goal per game in 4 of the last 5 games, Coach Ken Hitchcock did some minor reshuffling of his lines. And the Blues proceeded to score a single goal in the game. But with Peter Budaj standing on his head, Jake Allen must not have wanted to be upstaged by a guy who was in the AHL last year and pitched a shutout to make the single goal stand up.
This game was end to end "action" and by action I mean it was like a Terminator movie, a bunch of technical crap punctuated by bright lights and explosions. It was hard to tell if these two teams are two of the better defensive teams in the league or if something just isn't clicking yet when it comes to the offense. Don't get me wrong, there were some high intensity moments at both ends of the ice but Budaj and Allen were just that good and that lucky.
Paul Stastny had the best chance of the opening period when he took a feed from Alexander Steen but couldn't put the puck into a wide open net. Stastny couldn't get any lift on the wobbling puck and Budaj was able to stretch his left pad across to deny the Blues the lead.
The Kings would get a run of power plays to end the period and they got their best look on a short 5 on 3. Off a faceoff win the Kings put a point shot on that Allen was able to get a piece of but he lost sight of it. The puck would squirt to the left side of the net and Tyler Toffoli would get a seeing eye shot through Alex Pietrangelo' s legs and Allen's arm and hit the far post on a wide open net.
As the second period began the Blues remained on the defensive as the Kings tried to increase the physicality. Despite the control the Kings held on the game, not many pucks were getting through to Allen as the Blues defense blocked shots left and right. The ones that did get through Jake the Snake was able to turn aside but he seemed a little shaky as he couldn't quite hold on to some easy looks. Usually for Jake it takes one huge save to snap him into form and with just over 7 minutes to go in the second he found that save.
After a turnover in the defensive zone, Allen was able to kick out a Anze Kopitar shot but it fell right to Tanner Pearson who had a clear lane to a goal. But just like Budaj in the first, Allen was able to slide his left pad over and deny Pearson.
The momentum from that save seemed to energize Allen but the Blues couldn't capitalize on the good vibrations, despite back to back power plays to end the second. The offensive struggles continued as they were only able to muster 13 shots over the first two periods.
But in the third the Blues would break through on a turnover in the Kings zone that turned eerily similar to Stastny's earlier brush with the open net. Carl Gunnarsson corralled a puck near the blue line and through a shot on net that hit Vladimir Tarasenko near the front of the net. Tarasenko was able to grab the puck and slide it to Jori Lehtera who executed a perfect pinpoint pass to Jaden Schwartz who buried his first goal of the year past Budaj.
Schwartz's goal was the first by a Blues forward since Steen's empty netter against Calgary a week ago. Kevin Shattenkirk potted the only two goals for teh Blues over the last two games.
It seemed like after that goal the teams kind of looked at each other and were like, oh should we start playing now. because it turned into a track meet mid-way though the third with the teams trading chances. Just like the rest of the night, though, both Budaj and Allen just turned pucks aside. The Kings would get one last real good shot at tying the game up with a power play with just over 5 minutes remaining but cold not convert.
The Blues were ale to salt the win away after Alec Martinez was hit with an elbowing penalty at the 17:19 mark. Even though they didn't score it ended up being the best power play of the night for the Blues, they controlled the puck and wound the clock down.
With the 27 save shutout performance Allen ties Brent Johnson for 5th all time on the Blues shutout list. The win allows the Blues to keep pace with Minnesota who won tonight as well. The Blues sit one point behind the Wild for first in the Central. The Blues have another stretch of back to back days off before dropping the puck in the Big Apple against the Rangers on Tuesday night.
#3 - Peter Budaj: Stopped 24 of 25 shots and came up with multiple game saving saves
#2 - Jaden Schwartz: Scored his first goal of the season after starting year injured
#1 - Jake Allen: 27 saves on 27 shots, matched Budaj save for save and then some.