GLENDALE, Ariz. – B.J. Crombeen helped put the St. Louis Blues back in playoff position.
Crombeen scored twice, Chris Mason made 28 saves and the St. Louis Blues beat the Phoenix Coyotes 5-1 on Tuesday night to inch closer to their first playoff berth since 2004.
“We can’t get two high with it,” Crombeen said. “We’ve still got two games left and it’s such a tight race you can’t let anything slip away.”
The Blues won for the seventh time in nine games to move two points ahead of Nashville for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Predators lost 4-2 in Chicago.
“I didn’t know until after the game what the scores were,” St. Louis coach Andy Murray said. “We needed the win. We’ve got to win all our games. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
Keith Tkachuk had a goal and an assist and Brad Winchester also scored for St. Louis, which completed its first-ever season sweep against the Coyotes/Winnipeg Jets franchise.
“I wouldn’t say it was effort. Maybe it was smarts more than anything,” Coyotes defenceman Ed Jovanovski said. “They kept coming at us in waves and we left our goalie out to dry.”
St. Louis scored four straight goals after falling behind 1-0 on Scottie Upshall’s goal 6:14 into the game.
Crombeen tied the game at one at 11:00 of the first period when his wrist shot from the right circle slid between Ilya Bryzgalov’s pads and trickled across the goal line.
The goal was Crombeen’s first since February 16, a span of 23 games.
“I was just trying to throw it on net and somehow it squeaked through him,” Crombeen said.
Winchester made it 2-1 just 17 seconds into the second period when he one-timed a pass from Tkachuk from in front of the net. Tkachuk scored at 8:13 when he took control of a loose puck in front of the Coyotes goal and beat Bryzgalov from the bottom of the left faceoff circle.
Crombeen scored with 13.7 seconds left in the second and David Perron stepped out of the penalty box and scored on a breakaway off a long outlet from T.J. Oshie with 11:33 to play.
“We might have been a bit nervous because this game meant a lot to our team,” Mason said. “But we regrouped in the second and third and played very well.”
Bryzgalov allowed four goals on 21 shots before giving way to rookie Al Montoya, who surrendered Perron’s goal on the first shot he faced.
“It just really wasn’t a good night for him,” Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky said of his veteran. “I’m sure he’ll be the first to admit that it wasn’t a good game for him.”
Notes: Perron had been serving a penalty for Dan Hinote, who was whistled for a five-minute major and a game misconduct for slamming Petr Prucha into the boards headfirst from behind. … The Blues had been 2-8-2 against Phoenix the past three years before winning all four meetings this season. … Bryzgalov was making his first start in four games. He fell to 7-15-2 since the all-star break. … Crombeen’s two goals were as many as he’d scored in his last 40 games. … Since matching a season high with three straight wins, the Coyotes have been outscored 11-2 in consecutive losses.