ST. LOUIS – Jake Allen has gone from minor league goalie to a stabilizing force for the St. Louis Blues in the span of just a few weeks.
Allen made 29 saves Thursday night in his first NHL shutout, backstopping the Blues to a 3-0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes.
When it was over, Allen was still trying to figure out how he has come so far, so fast.
“It’s something I’ve dreamed of, especially as a kid, getting a shutout playing in the NHL,” Allen said. “I never would have realized it would have been this quick. But, I definitely appreciate all the work the guys did.”
So did Blues coach Ken Hitchcock.
“This was more of a team shutout,” Hitchcock said. “This looked like us. This looked like our team. This looked like we envisioned our team.”
St. Louis has back-to-back wins in regulation for the first time since Jan. 24-25. The Blues have won four of five overall.
Chris Stewart led the offence with two goals and an assist. Alexander Steen celebrated his return to the lineup for St. Louis with a goal and two assists. Steen, who had missed eight games with a shoulder injury, scored his first goal since Feb. 15.
“It’s been impressive to watch, and now to jump in and be a part of it is a great feeling,” Steen said.
Stewart has four goals in two games and six goals and 12 points in six games.
“I’m not necessarily worried about the points, but I feel like I’m generating a lot of offence,” Stewart said. “I’m getting a lot of opportunities on the rush.”
The Coyotes, shut out for the third time this season, had their two-game winning streak snapped.
Phoenix (29 points) also missed out on a chance to leap frog St. Louis (32 points) in the Western Conference standings.
“In reality, we didn’t play well enough to win,” Phoenix goalie Mike Smith said. “We didn’t play well enough to get those bounces going our way. We weren’t ready to play from the drop of the puck. We had a better second, and we obviously were trying to press at the end of the game to get back into it.”
Smith made 27 saves.
Stewart took advantage of a lucky bounce to give the Blues the lead early in the second period
David Backes broke in down the left side and put a shot toward the net. He missed, but the puck bounced hard off the boards and came out on the other side to Stewart, who put it in for his 12th goal at 5:54.
“I was kind of expecting it to come off (his) pad,” Stewart said. “It took a funny hop off the back boards and right on to my stick.”
Steen gave the Blues some insurance when he corralled a loose puck near the blue line and beat Smith with a shot from the high slot at 4:05 of the third. Stewart scored again at 14:31.
NOTES: The Blues have won five of six against the Coyotes. … St. Louis entered play with the NHL’s second-ranked power play (25.9 per cent), but the Blues have just three power-play goals in their last 37 chances after going 0-for-5 Thursday. … Phoenix hasn’t had a winning streak longer than two games.