Coyotes-Blues Preview

The St. Louis Blues have picked up some wins following a

disappointing stretch. Finally getting some consistent play from a

goaltender has helped.

The Blues look to beat the Phoenix Coyotes for the second time

in a week Thursday night.

After losing five of seven, St. Louis (14-10-2) has won three of

four, a stretch that started with a 6-3 victory at Phoenix last

Thursday. Patrik Berglund scored the tying and go-ahead goals in a

2:12 span of the second period to lead the Blues to their fourth

win in five meetings.

Rookie Jake Allen made 23 saves against the Coyotes (13-10-3)

and has won his two starts since – both over San Jose. He stopped a

season-high 39 shots in Tuesday’s 4-2 victory for St. Louis, which

is a point ahead of Phoenix as they battle for playoff


“It doesn’t matter if I get 15 shots or 40 shots, you’ve still

got to stop the puck,” Allen said. “You’ve got to be ready for


Allen has gone 6-1-0 with a 2.54 goals-against average in his

seven starts, and he’s making the most of an opportunity for a team

that came into the season seemingly set at goaltender.

Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak led the league with 15 shutouts

and a 1.89 GAA in 2011-12, but Elliott has been benched with a 3.65

GAA and the inconsistent Halak has gone 1-3-0 with a 3.46 GAA in

his last four starts.

“He’s not making any flashy saves, and we’re trying to do a

decent job of keeping shots to the outside,” defenseman Barret

Jackman said of Allen. “And even when they get inside, Jake is

making the simple save and covering the rebound.”

Chris Stewart had two goals Tuesday, giving him 11 on the season

and four goals and five assists in five games.

Berglund, St. Louis’ leader with 13 goals, has four along with

two assists in his last five.

Those two along with linemate David Perron have helped carry the

team offensively with the second line of Alex Steen, Andy McDonald

and rookie Vladimir Tarasenko missing due to injury.

Steen could be back on the ice Thursday, having been activated

from injured reserve after missing eight games with a shoulder

problem. The Blues, though, will almost certainly be without T.J.

Oshie, who suffered an upper-body injury Tuesday.

The Coyotes are opening a season-high four-game trip and play

seven of nine away from Arizona. They’re 1-3-1 in their last five

on the road.

Phoenix coach Dave Tippett knows his team most come out with a

stronger effort than it showed in the third period against Los

Angeles on Tuesday to have success during this difficult stretch.

The Coyotes entered the third leading 4-1 but were outshot 14-8

over the final 20 minutes, though they still won 5-2.

“I didn’t like the third period. We turned pucks over … I

didn’t like the way we defended,” Tippett said. “We can be a very

good team, and when we try to make risky plays and don’t defend

well we get on our heels. That’s what happened in the third


Tippett had a meeting with left wing Mikkel Boedker on Monday

and told him to hang onto the puck more. Boedker, with a team-high

18 points, took the advice and scored twice to end a season

high-tying six-game stretch without a goal.

“When he has the puck he can be a very dangerous player,”

Tippett said.

Mike Smith got his fourth win in five starts, with the lone loss

coming against St. Louis. Since allowing a season high-tying six

goals to the Blues, he’s stopped 51 of 54 shots in two games.