Blues flex their muscles with win over Penguins

News-DemocratNovember 9, 2013 

— Eager to prove themselves against one of the NHL's top teams, the St. Louis Blues got the job done Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk scored his first goal of the season midway through the third period, giving the surging Blues a 2-1 victory that pushed their record to11-2-2.

The 11 wins in 15 games marks the first time the Blues have reached that rarified air since 2003-04. They also held the Penguins to a season-low 20 shots.

Shattenkirk's goal-scoring drought reached back 17 games to last April, but he kept predicting a goal would come.

"That's what he's said every day, so eventually he was going to be right," said Blues defenseman Barret Jackman, who sent the pass onto Shattenkirk's stick before the goal. "He sticks with it, he's a very positive guy. He knew it was a matter of time."

Shattenkirk's shot from the right point snaked its way through traffic and wound up under the pads of Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury at 10:52 of the third period.

It squirted through his pads and across the line as the crowd of 18,685 exploded, pushing Shattenkirk's point streak to eight straight games.

"You just keep saying you're going to score (and) it's going to go in," Shattenkirk said. "Our forwards did a great job of keeping the puck alive, a great (defenseman to defenseman) pass from Jacks and throw it to the net. We still think someone might have tipped it, but for now I'll take it."

Blues players and coach Ken Hitchcock all said it was the team's most complete game this season.

"I think we got it across the board, we got a lot of good efforts from a lot of people," Hitchcock said. "I thought we got stronger and stronger as the game went on. Our third period was our best and the second was awful good, too. We played a really smart, strong, hard hockey game."

Fleury robbed T.J. Oshie and Alexander Steen in the third period to keep the Penguins close. He also got his arm or shoulder on a shot from Blues captain David Backes midway through the period, then robbed Steen with a glove save when Steen and Alex Pietrangelo broke in on a 2-on-1.

"I think we finally played the 60 minutes that we always talk about," Shattenkirk said. "It's nice to get good teams like this to come in because it keeps you on your toes the entire game. You have to be aware of who's on the ice at every second."

After starting out the night with a rollicking fight with Pittsburgh's Deryk Engelland three seconds into the game, Blues winger Ryan Reaves also scored the first goal.

Steen put things in motion by forcing a turnover deep in the Penguins' zone early in the second period. The puck came to Maxim Lapierre, who sent it to Reaves for the redirection past Fleury.

"I don't think anybody really knew I was coming on the ice, it was kind of a late change," Reaves said. "He had some good patience to see me back door and it was a great pass."

Steen picked up an assist on the play, stretching his scoring streak to a career-high 10 games.

It marked the seventh straight game the Blues scored first and 12th time in 15 games this season.

The Penguins netted the equalizer during a second-period the power play when Evgeni Malkin found Jussi Jokinen open in front.

Three seconds after the opening faceoff, Reaves and Engelland dropped the gloves and began throwing big right hands.

"I felt like I had to get the crowd into it early," Reaves said. "I had a tough last game and not very physical, so I kind of brought it on myself to get the boys going. He looked at me and I was ready to go."

The teams hadn't met since 2012, but it didn't look like it as they battled through a physical first period.

Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak was staring at Penguins star Sidney Crosby blazing in all alone following a Oshie turnover, but Halak stood his ground and made the save with 3:45 remaining in the first period.

Halak had 19 saves, improving to 9-2-1.

Notes

The Blues inserted defenseman Ian Cole on Saturday to replace Jordan Leopold, who suffered a hand injury while blocking a shot against Calgary.

Blues lineup scratches were Leopold and Adam Cracknell. Magnus Paajarvi and Brenden Morrow remain out of the lineup with upper-body injuries.

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, nsanders@bnd.com or on Twitter @NormSanders

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