ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Blues put an end to their power play woes. Caught the Detroit Red Wings in the standings, too.
David Backes got the go-ahead score on the second straight power-play goal of the game for the Blues, who ended a 2 for 39 slump with the man advantage in a 3-2 victory on Tuesday night.
“Enough’s enough,” Backes said. “Hopefully, this is a springboard toward teams not being able to take those liberties because they know they can kill our power play.”
Alex Steen had a power-play goal in the second period and Brian Elliott made 27 saves for the Blues, who are 9-2-3 since Ken Hitchcock replaced Davis Payne as coach. The Blues also beat the Red Wings in Hitchcock’s first game on Nov. 15, and now are tied with Detroit for fourth in the Western Conference.
Besides a strong game in net, Brian Elliott bounced back after getting plowed by Justin Abdelkader early in the third.
“I had the puck covered, I didn’t see anything coming, and just got my head taken off,” Elliott said. “I’ve got to watch the play to see the intent but whatever, we won the game.”
Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard also got knocked down late in the game by David Perron, who had been pushed by a teammate. Detroit has lost two straight after winning seven in a row, and Howard’s seven-game winning streak ended.
“I’m not taking that, I don’t care who it is,” Howard said. “If you’re going to run into me that like or try to go through me like that, you’re going to pay the price.”
Detroit defenceman Brad Stuart thought maybe Howard overreacted a bit.
“It wasn’t a real harmful collision, I didn’t feel,” Stuart said. “I didn’t feel like he went in with a lot of force.”
St. Louis entered Tuesday as the NHL’s worst with the man advantage—having scored eight goals in 87 chances. They had a lot of chances against the Red Wings, going 2 for 8.
Hitchcock believed the Blues have been ready to bust out.
“We’re starting to get it. We’re understanding where teams are vulnerable,” Hitchcock said. “We’ve been kind of on the edge of it for three games now but tonight’s nice to finish.”
Detroit’s Jonathan Franzen scored for the third straight game and Jiri Hudler made it a one-goal game with 1:20 to go. But coach Mike Babcock said the Red Wings made mental errors on both power play goals.
“Those are free goals,” Babcock said. “You just give them away.”
Backes’ team-leading 10th goal came on a one-timer from T.J. Oshie in the opening minute of the third period, capitalizing on a delay of game call on Niklas Kronwall for clearing the puck into the stands. Berglund’s sixth of the year beat Howard to the short side on a rush for a 3-1 lead.
Franzen poked the puck between Elliott’s pads at 7:42 of the second for his team-leading 13th goal and the early lead, with Howard earning his first assist on the play.
Steen tied it with his ninth off Jason Arnott’s faceoff win only four seconds into a tripping call on Jakub Kindl to end a power play drought that began after Chris Stewart connected on St. Louis’ first chance under Hitchcock—also against the Red Wings at home.
Elliott used his glove to keep it tied, making a diving stop on Daniel Cleary’s rebound shot with three minutes to go in the second. Elliott is 11-2 and has allowed two or fewer goals in all but one of his last 13 starts.
Notes: Hudler also had an assist. … Payne, fired after a 6-7 start and now a scout for the franchise, was in the press box for the first time but didn’t it was too strange. “I’m a hockey guy,” he said. “Coming to a rink, it’s what I do.”… Red Wings C Valtteri Filppula, third on the team with 21 points, was scratched two days after suffering a cut above one of his skates. … Howard limited the opposition to one goal three times during his winning streak.