Surging Elliott comes up big again for Blues in shutout of Kings
ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Blues were well aware of the situation at hand during the final moments of Thursday night’s game against the visiting Los Angeles Kings.
The Blues didn’t let up as the final seconds ticked off the clock. They had surrendered a goal with just nine seconds left in Minnesota on New Year’s Eve that prevented goaltender Brian Elliott from getting the shutout he deserved. They wouldn’t let it happen again.
They wanted the shutout for Elliott on Thursday.
He deserved it.
He got it.
Elliott made 30 saves as the Blues dominated from start to finish in a 5-0 victory in front of 19,839 frenzied fans at Scottrade Center.
"We couldn’t get him the shutout last game, but we’re happy to get it for him," Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. "He was outstanding. It makes you feel pretty confident when you’ve got someone like that back there."
It was a night when little could go wrong for St. Louis (28-7-5, 61 points), which is still shorthanded without injured forwards Alexander Steen and David Backes.
"We wanted to come out and dictate, get pucks deep and put pucks to the net, and I think when you do that, good things happen," Elliott said. "They probably didn’t play to their game plan, but we can use that as a measuring stick and know that we can do that against good teams. It’s a good feeling, but you take the good from it, learn from the bad and move forward."
Newly minted U.S. Olympian T.J. Oshie scored twice in the second period, with chants of "USA-USA-USA" ringing throughout the building following the second tally. Brenden Morrow and Vladimir Tarasenko scored. Even Barret Jackman got in on the action, recording his first goal of the season and 23rd in 683 career games.
It was the kind of all-around performance the Blues needed, especially against one of their primary Western Conference rivals.
Los Angeles (25-13-4, 54 points) has suddenly turned into Lost Angeles with five consecutive defeats, but the team we saw Thursday night will look different whenever it gets injured goalie Jonathan Quick back.
The shutout was the 15th as a Blue for Elliott, who also won his 12th consecutive decision at Scottrade Center and was selected as the game’s No. 1 star — ahead of Oshie and Vladimir Sobotka (one assist).
Elliott, who has won his last four starts and five straight decisions, is making the most of his opportunities with Jaroslav Halak fighting an illness that kept him away from the rink Thursday and caused St. Louis to call up youngster Jake Allen, who was promptly sent back to the Chicago Wolves after the game.
We’ll see who gets the start in net Saturday against visiting Columbus, but the statistics show Elliott and Halak are two goaltenders trending in opposite directions.
Elliott went 0-0-1 with an .881 save percentage in two October appearances, then 4-1-0 with a .924 save percentage in November and 6-0-1 with a .930 save percentage in December.
After the shutout, Elliott is now 11-1-2 on the season with a 1.84 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage.
Halak, meanwhile, went 7-1-1 with a .917 save percentage in October, 7-2-1 with a .914 save percentage in November and 3-3-1 with an .885 save percentage in December. He is 17-6-3 with a 2.40 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage in 28 games (27 starts).
Elliott set the tone early on Thursday. He turned away 13 shots in the first period, including a brilliant save on a wide-open Jarret Stoll with 1:22 left in the period.
"Ells was big for us early, and we just kind of gained some momentum there," Pietrangelo said.
Elliott stopped 11 more shots in the second period.
Justin Williams found himself alone in front of the net with 11:49 remaining but Elliott came up with the save. After the Blues killed a 5-on-3 Kings advantage late in the period, Dwight King had a prime opportunity in the final seconds that he couldn’t get past Elliott, either.
The goalie faced six shots in the third period and none rippled the mesh.
This was Elliott’s night. He deserved it. He showed that from the start with some key saves in the first period and he never let up. He owned the moment.
"It gains momentum," Pietrangelo said. "The fans get into it. We get into it. It means a lot of energy. Then you start playing even extra hard for the guy back there knowing he has a chance to get a shutout. Them scoring with (nine) seconds left in Minnesota gave us a little bit extra drive."
You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter (@natelatsch) or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.