(AP) — While the St. Louis Blues were expected to lean on a pair of veteran goalies, they’ve instead turned the job over to rookie Jake Allen.
Allen looks to continue his impressive run as the visiting Blues go for a season best-tying fourth consecutive win Tuesday night against the slumping Vancouver Canucks.
After compiling a 1.79 goals-against average and winning all five starts since getting called up for the third time March 6, Allen appears to be here to stay. The 22-year-old netminder has gone 8-1-0 with a 2.09 GAA over nine starts overall, supplanting Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak as the team’s No. 1 goalie.
“He knows he’s good enough to play and he’s not going to give up anything easy,” coach Ken Hitchcock said. “If he keeps playing like this, we’ve got to keep playing him. We’re in playoff mode right now and we need all the points we can get.”
Two nights after recording his first shutout in a 3-0 win over Phoenix, Allen turned away 27 shots Saturday in a 2-1 overtime victory over Anaheim.
“I know I had some big saves there, but that’s my job,” he said. “It’s still a little bit of a whirlwind, just enjoy it tonight.”
Allen, who made 28 saves in a 4-3 shootout win at Vancouver (13-9-6) on Feb. 17, seems to have another favorable matchup given the Canucks’ recent woes.
Vancouver dropped to 3-6-2 over its last 11 games with Monday’s 3-1 loss to Minnesota. While Henrik Sedin’s goal midway through the second period ended the Canucks’ stretch of 36 straight unsuccessful power-play chances, they were outscored 3-0 the rest of the way.
“In the end it’s not about the power-play goals, it’s about the Ws and we didn’t win tonight,” coach Alain Vigneault told the league’s official website.
The Canucks, who have scored two goals or fewer in seven of their last eight games, have converted just 15 of 107 chances (14.0 percent) on the man advantage to rank 27th in the league. They led the NHL in that category in 2010-11 and ranked fourth last season.
“We’re trying to find perfect lanes and we’ve had some good sequences but I think we have to get more dirty and get more pucks towards the net,” forward Alexandre Burrows said. “You look at teams that are scoring a lot of goals, they are shooting a lot and the law of averages will get a puck to go in. We’re still trying to be too cute.”
After Roberto Luongo got the start Monday, Cory Schneider could be back in net for Vancouver for the first time since March 10.
Either goalie will need to be wary of Chris Stewart, who scored the game-winning goal 45 seconds into overtime and added an assist Saturday. Stewart has 14 points over his last seven contests, including five goals and two assists during the Blues’ three-game win streak.
While Andy McDonald (knee) could return Tuesday following a 10-game absence, fellow forward T.J. Oshie remains sidelined with an upper-body injury. Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo’s status is unclear after he missed Saturday’s game due to the flu.
“Guys have been dropping all year and guys have been stepping up,” Stewart said. “It’s going to be scary when we do get healthy. I think we’re going to be getting healthy around the right time of the year. We’re going to be a team to be reckoned with.”