ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Blues didn’t look at Tuesday night’s rematch with the New Jersey Devils as any kind of revenge game.
This wasn’t about that. Sure, that loss a week earlier in the Garden State was embarrassing. But the Blues made a point to distance themselves from that setback as soon as they could and capped off the four-game road trip with two more victories.
The Blues’ 3-0 win against the visiting Devils on Tuesday night at Scottrade Center showed they had learned from their past mistakes.
"That night, not a whole lot went well," Blues forward Brenden Morrow said of the 7-1 loss in New Jersey last Tuesday. "We gave up a couple quick ones early, and then you start cheating a little bit and you’re trying to score your way back into the game. I think the more we learn from those types of games the better. Because that’s never a good recipe when you’re chasing games. Good teams stay with their structure, stay with their system, and let that roll over and get back into the game that way. And I think we learned our lesson there."
St. Louis (36-11-5) has responded from its worst stretch of the season — four losses in six games — with three straight hard-fought victories against the Rangers, Islanders and Devils.
That’s a 2-1 win in New York, a 4-3 shootout win on Long Island and a 3-0 victory against New Jersey that was much closer than the final score indicated.Jaroslav Halak, who stopped all 23 shots to record his fourth shutout of the season, kept turning away the Devils until the Blues could open up some breathing room late.
It was a 1-0 game that looked like it could have gone either way until Morrow deflected home a shot from Jay Bouwmeester for a power play goal midway through the third period. Maxim Lapierre added a late empty-netter to stretch it out.
"I think if we can be comfortable in low-scoring games like that it’s good and it builds confidence," Bouwmeester said.
This rematch was a test of brains and brawn and the Blues passed — just seven days after surrendering a season-high seven goals in Newark.
"They play a mature brand of hockey," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "They are well-structured, they are well-coached and they make you pay for making errors. They counter-attack as good as anybody in the league. … As long as you don’t allow them to play that game, you have a chance to beat them. But if you allow them to play that game, you’re going to be in trouble."
It was the kind of game St. Louis needed.
Hitchcock said he didn’t have to talk to his players about what had happened a week earlier.
"I thought our response for me isn’t so much against New Jersey," Hitchcock said. "It was the way we played against the Rangers. That was the right response. Again, we got away with the Ranger game because we weren’t good in the first period. That was the debris from New Jersey. Once we got through the debris, we were fine. We were back going again."
The Blues certainly look like they are back on the right track.
The win gave them 77 points, which is their most ever through 52 games, and a first-place tie with Chicago in the Western Conference’s Central Division.
The loss in New Jersey served as a wake-up call, but the Blues look like they have effectively put that debacle in the rear view mirror. Three wins later, they are focused on closing out the next five games before the Olympic break on a positive note.
"We’re trying to build a good team here and you kind of have to put that stuff behind you and move on," Bouwmeester said.
You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter (@natelatsch) or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.