The St. Louis Blues are in the thick of a four-team race for the
Central Division crown due in part to their success against Eastern
Facing the surging New Jersey Devils may provide one of their
toughest tests yet.
New Jersey seeks its sixth straight victory Thursday night when
it hosts St. Louis, which has earned 22 of a possible 24 points
against the East this season.
Four of the five victories during the Devils’ run have come
against teams currently holding postseason spots in the conference.
The steak began with a 4-3 shootout win over the East-leading New
York Rangers on Jan. 31 and continued with a controversial 1-0 win
over them Tuesday.
Martin Brodeur made 30 saves to earn his first shutout, though
New York had the potential tying goal waved off in the final
David Clarkson’s first-period goal on the power play held
“We played a great hockey game, right from the start,” Brodeur
said. “We said it would probably be a dirty 1-0 game that we would
have to win. That’s exactly what happened.”
New Jersey’s ability to beat the top teams in the East has given
it confidence as it makes a push toward the playoffs.
“The last week has been good, beating the Rangers twice,
Pittsburgh and Philly,” Brodeur said. “We had a hard time early to
do that. Now we seem to come through against these teams.”
The Devils should be in for another tough battle against the
Blues, who are 10-0-2 against the East after winning 3-1 in Ottawa
St. Louis scored twice in the first four minutes and David
Perron scored his second goal of the game in the third period for
the Blues, who are in a tight race with Nashville and Chicago
chasing first-place Detroit in the Central.
Brian Elliott had 28 saves to beat his former team and improve
to 16-5-2 with a league-leading 1.66 goals-against average. He
recorded a 24-save shutout the last time he faced the Devils on
Jan. 26, 2010, while playing with the Senators.
“You really want to get back in that winning feeling and doing
it here is obviously pretty big for me,” said Elliott, who lost his
previous two starts.
Whether Elliott or Jaroslav Halak – 8-2-0 with a 1.29 GAA in his
last 10 starts – is in net Thursday, St. Louis hopes to slow Zach
Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk.
Parise picked up an assist Tuesday and has five goals and three
assists during a six-game point streak. Kovalchuk was held
scoreless to end his streak of three consecutive three-point games,
though he had three goals and seven assists during his previous
The Blues have had trouble offensively of late, as Tuesday
marked only the second time in their last seven games they scored
at least three goals.
Perron’s goals were his first two points in five games.
St. Louis has won the last two meetings, beating Brodeur 1-0 on
March 20, 2010, in New Jersey before Halak made 35 saves in a 3-2
win Nov. 20, 2010, in the most recent matchup.