St. Louis Blues

Blues’ top line explodes for 10 points in win over Coyotes

The previously cool Jaden Schwartz may be heating up at just the right time for the St. Louis Blues.

Schwartz scored two goals and added an assist Monday, giving him four goals in the last four games after a long scoring slump as the Blues knocked off the Arizona Coyotes 4-1.

The two goals gave Schwartz 18 goals this season. Before the recent hot stretch, Schwartz had only one goal in his previous 25 games and that was an empty-netter.

“You learn from it,” Schwartz said. “Guys go through different slumps at different times in their career, you just try to stick with it and keep doing the right things, make some adjustments in your game. Sometimes you’re at the top of your game and they’re not going in, everybody will tell you that. Its’ obvious nicer when they’re going in, it maybe just relaxes you a little bit.:”

The line of Schwartz, Alexander Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko scored 10 points Monday. Steen had four assists while Tarasenko scored his 35th goal and added two assists.

Swansea native Clayton Keller made his NHL debut for the Coyotes, becoming the first metro-east player to skate in an NHL regular-season game. Keller was the seventh overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft and signed with Arizona on Sunday.

Schwartz showed remarkable patience on his second goal of the night, one that put the Blues on top 3-1 midway through the third period.

He waited after taking a pass from Tarasenko, flicked the puck from side to side three times, then flipped a backhander over Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith before being shoved down from behind by Arizona’s Lawson Crouse.

“Yeah, that doesn’t happen very often,” Schwartz said of being alone in front for that long. “Great play by Steener to take it wide and I think there were two guys on Vladdy. I wasn’t sure he saw me, but I had a feeling he might have and he made just a great pass to give me that much time in front of the net.”

Schwartz now has seven goals and 13 points in 14 career games against the Coyotes. His hard work has been noticed by Steen.

“It’s what we’ve been talking about for a long time,” Steen said. “Even when he wasn’t scoring he was contributing in so many ways.”

The Blues are 10-1-1 in their previous 12 games as they continued chasing third place in the Central Division standings. They also won their 10th in a row against the Coyotes and have outscored them 42-13, this time in front of a sellout crowd of 19,164 at Scottrade Center. It was the fifth straight sellout for the Blues.

Watching everyone else

With the Blues trying to pile up points for a better playoff seed, this was the first of two games in three nights against the Coyotes.

Nashville won again Monday to remain one point ahead of the Blues in the battle for third place in the Central Division.

“Since the time I took over, we haven’t spent any time talking about standings,” Blues coach Mike Yeo said. “Maybe a brief mention of it here or there, but certainly everyone is aware. This is a group that cares, this is a group that obviously for a number of years has had a lot of success making the playoffs.”

Norm Sanders: 618-239-2454, @NormSanders

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