GLENDALE, Ariz. — Mike Yeo has the St. Louis Blues right in the thick of the playoff race in the NHL’s Western Conference, and his players gave the coach another winning effort Saturday night.
Jake Allen stopped 31 shots for his fourth shutout of the season to lead the Blues to a 3-0 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. St. Louis moved to 14-7 since Yeo replaced Ken Hitchcock, who was fired Feb. 1.
With the win and a Nashville Predators loss, the Blues moved past the Predators for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference’s Central Division.
Scottie Upshall, Alex Pietrangelo and David Perron scored to help the Blues win for the seventh time in eight games overall and beat the Coyotes for the ninth straight time. It was St. Louis’ fifth shutout since Feb. 2, Yeo’s first game as head coach.
“We’re just playing well, playing with confidence,” Allen said. “But we don’t have a choice. We’re in a spot where we can’t take our foot off the gas … We have to play every single game like that and give yourself an honest chance to win and go from there.”
Allen improved to 6-0-0 in his career against the Coyotes and earned his 15th career shutout. He stopped Teemu Pulkkinnen’s breakaway shot with 7:37 left in the second period to keep the Coyotes scoreless.
The Coyotes failed to earn a point for the first time since a loss to Carolina on March 5. Mike Smith stopped 38 shots.
Upshall extended the Blues’ lead to 2-0 at 2:52 of the second period. He took the puck from behind the net back up the ice, turned around and shot the puck into traffic and past Smith for his ninth of the season.
“Everyone’s pulling their weight,” Upshall said. “That’s a play you do two or three times in practice. I can’t say it’s perfect, because I lost the puck earlier, but great screen in front and generating offense through our physical play.”
Smith’s saves included a fairly easy one when the Blues’ Vladimir Tarasenko was awarded a penalty shot with 45.6 seconds left in the second. Tarasenko held the puck for too long and didn’t shoot until he was almost behind the net.
“He was excellent,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said of Smith. “We were so poor in the first period. It was maddening to say the least, especially when you play against a good team.”
Perron scored a short-handed empty-net goal with 1:03 to play in the game.
The Coyotes played without captain Shane Doan for the first time this season. Doan missed some time early in Thursday’s game to be checked for a concussion after a collision with a teammate during pregame warmups, but returned to the ice and played. He was listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
Doan, 40, is the all-time franchise leader in games played, goals, assists and points, and had played in all 70 games this season. He remains on pace to play the most amount of games he has since the 2009-2010 season when he appeared in all 82 games.
The Coyotes lost defenseman Anthony DeAngelo less than two minutes into the game when he was called for boarding and given a five-minute penalty and a game misconduct. DeAngelo checked the Blues’ Zach Sanford into the boards face-first.
“Bit of a tough call,” Coyotes defenseman Luke Schenn said. “I don’t think it was intentional.”
Sanford went to the locker room and missed the rest of the first period, but returned in the second.
The Coyotes were three seconds away from killing DeAngelo’s penalty when Pietrangelo fired a long-range shot that eluded Smith for the game’s first goal. Paul Stastny provided the pass that set up Pietrangelo’s 10th of the season.
“It was a good way to start the game. We kind of put them on their heels,” Pietrangelo said. “As a group we’re doing a much better job helping the goalies, they’ve been good all year.”
NOTES: C Jori Lehtera (upper body injury) and F Dmitrij Jaskin (upper body) were scratched for the Blues, along with healthy scratches Jordan Schmaltz and Nail Yakupov.
Blues: At Colorado on Tuesday in the finale of a five-game Western road trip.