Allen ready for big challenge against Blackhawks
ST. LOUIS — After a strong bounce-back game following two sub-par efforts, Jake Allen will be back in goal Wednesday night for the St. Louis Blues in a key Central Division game against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Allen needed to play well in his last game on Sunday night against Colorado after allowing a combined nine goals in regulation losses last week on the road against the New York Rangers and Dallas Stars.
Given a little more breathing room when the offense snapped out of its scoring slump with five goals, Allen was back to his old form, allowing only one goal — off a deflection through traffic — in a 5-1 win over the Avalanche.
Allen stopped 22 shots and helped keep the Avalanche scoreless on six power-play opportunities, the kind of effort the Blues expected when they made their number one goalie this year with the offseason trade of Brian Elliott to Calgary and signed Allen to a four-year contract extension.
The win followed an overtime victory over Columbus on Saturday night behind backup goalie Carter Hutton and gave the Blues consecutive wins for the first time since they opened the season with a three-game winning streak.
"To string together two wins was important for us not just for the points but for the morale and momentum and confidence in this group," Allen said.
Now the Blues will be looking to build on that effort against the Blackhawks, who lead the Central Division with three more points than the Blues.
The Blues will make one lineup change, with Petteri Lindbohm, recalled from Chicago of the American Hockey League, replacing defenseman Joel Edmundson, who was played on injured reserve on Monday because of an upper-body injury.
The Blackhawks also come into Wednesday night’s game as one of the hottest teams in the league, having won their last six games, including beating Dallas in overtime in their most recent game on Sunday night.
Part of their success can be attributed to coach Joel Quenneville’s decision to put his top two forwards, center Jonathan Toews and right winger Patrick Kane, on the same line for the first time since the 2009-2010 season.
The Blackhawks have gone 6-0 since Toews and Kane were reunited. Toews did not have a goal and just two assists in the team’s first seven games but has four goals and four assists during the winning streak. Kane has scored three goals and added five assists since the pair began playing together.
"If our line can set the tone, or create more, have more shifts in their end, it’s going to be good for our team in the long run," Kane told the Chicago Sun-Times. "It could be a great thing for our team, and one of those things that you didn’t really expect to happen."
Corey Crawford is expected to start in goal for the Blackhawks. He has won his last three games, allowing a combined three goals.