CALGARY – Veteran Blues centre Jason Arnott was proud to be wearing the St. Louis wiener hat after Monday’s victory in Calgary.
Arnott scored two power-play goals and the Blues defeated the Flames 3-1 to move into a tie with Detroit atop the Central Division and within two points of Vancouver for first overall.
“It’s for the hardest worker or player of the game, which the guys vote for when we get in here,”explained Arnott, who at age 37 is the team’s oldest player.
“It’s sure funny looking but it’s an honour to wear it.”
Arnott gave St. Louis a 2-1 lead with 20 seconds remaining in the first period when he scored on a long slapshot that eluded goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff.
He made it 3-1 at 6:21 of the second by corralling a rebound off Patrick Berglund’s shot, skating through the slot and backhanding it in.
Arnott has always played well against Calgary, scoring 29 goals in 57 career games against the Flames.
“I don’t know why that is,”said Arnott.“We had huge battles here when I was in Edmonton. Man, it was rough and tough and any time you left this building without an ice pack or a cut or a bruise, you were doing good. They play hard, they never quit, they’ve always been like that so it’s just good games when you come in here.”
Arnott, who entered the night with one goal in his last 13 games, is up to 15 on the season.
“He’s a guy that’s obviously been through the motions, he’s been in the playoffs, he’s won a cup, he knows what it takes and this time of year, you need guys like that,”said David Backes, who had the other goal for St. Louis.
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock says the wiener hat is indicative of the personality of his team.
“Some of the stuff that they say to each other before we go on the ice, when they introduce the lineup, is right out of Saturday Night Live,” said Hitchcock.
“We try and keep it light and loose until it’s ready to play. With this age group and the young guys that we got, you can’t pile the stress on. We don’t bring it until we absolutely have to.”
The Blues’ camaraderie has translated on the ice. St. Louis (39-17-7) has won the first three games of its six-game road trip and is 9-3-0 in its last dozen games.
“We’ve got great chemistry in here … and we’ve got some key guys out for us right now that are going to help us down the stretch and in the playoffs,”said Arnott.
Curtis Glencross scored the lone goal for Calgary (28-24-11), which remains in 11th place in the Western Conference, three points back of the eighth-place Dallas Stars.
“We went through a spell here that we had some adversity we’re dealing with and we have to handle it the right way and work ourselves through it,”said Flames coach Brent Sutter.
Calgary recognized Hall of Fame defenceman Al MacInnis before the game, honouring his No. 2 by raising it to the rafters of the Scotiabank Saddledome
The Flames wrapped up a four-game homestand without recording a victory and earning only two points–the result of two shootout losses.
“Obviously it was not very good for us here at home,”said Flames captain Jarome Iginla. “We had an opportunity to gain some ground on some teams and get some momentum.”
Backes erased Calgary’s 1-0 lead on a harmless-looking wrist shot, a rare bad goal surrendered by Kiprusoff at 14:13 of the first period.
Calgary has been outshot in 11 games in row.
“We need to put more pucks in. We know that, but we’ve got to start with one game and go from there,”said Iginla.“Nobody in our room has given up or thinking now we’re done.”
Jaroslav Halak won his third straight start for St. Louis, finishing the night with 20 saves. He is 12-3-0 in his last 15 decisions.
The game featured two teams that both chose to stand pat at the NHL trade deadline.
While the Blues rewarded the confidence that St. Louis management showed in the current make-up of the club, the same could not be said for Calgary.
The Flames generated only 11 shots on goal in a listless opening 40 minutes, drawing the ire of the sell-out crowd of 19,289.
The booing started during an anaemic Calgary power play late in the second period, which failed to generate any good chances. The jeers grew louder as the team headed off the ice after the second, and intensified even more after the final buzzer went.
Notes: Calgary held first period leads in each game of its four-game homestand — 1-0, 2-0, 3-0, and 1-0. … Calgary has been outshot by a combined 107 shots in its last 11 games.…The Blues improve to 26-2-1 when leading after two periods.…Arnott has 415 career goals, which ranks him fourth amongst active players. He is three up on Marian Hossa.