GLENDALE, Ariz. – Chris Mason is doing his best to keep the St. Louis Blues in contention for a playoff spot.
Mason made 26 saves and carried the Blues to a 3-1 victory over the free-falling Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday night. The Blues are 12th in the Western Conference, three points behind seventh-place Anaheim and Edmonton in the race for eight playoff spots.
“We have played hard all season, but (Mason) is playing better now, and that’s the difference,” Blues coach Andy Murray said. “It all starts with goaltending and defence and right now, we’re not chasing the game.”
Mason started his 18th straight game and has allowed only five goals in the Blues’ last five games – four victories and a loss.
“I’m clam, relaxed and having fun,” Mason said after recording his 14th win of the season. “I’m letting the game come to me, and that did not happen earlier. We have great chemistry and that’s a major factor in our success right now.”
Rookie David Perron scored the winning goal on a third-period power play.
Jay McClement and Andy McDonald also scored.
The Coyotes cut it to 2-1 when Olli Jokinen tipped in a power-play goal with 5:52 left in the third. Phoenix has lost 12 of its last 15 games.
McClement opened the scoring with 4:03 left in the second, sidestepping Phoenix defenseman Ed Jovanovski and firing a wrist shot past Ilya Bryzgalov.
Perron’s goal came with Ken Klee off for high-sticking early in the final period. Perron, from the left point, skated into the left face-off circle and then fired the wrist shot over Bryzgalov’s left shoulder at 3:11.
“I saw the corner open and fired the puck that way,” Perron said. “The coaches pointed out that the top shelf could be open, but this game is so fast that you really don’t remember what coaches said in scouting meetings. You just shoot.”
After falling behind, Phoenix could not generate much of an attack. The Coyotes managed only six shots in the middle session. Shane Doan had a good chance, but Mason’s gloved the shot with 23 seconds remaining.
Instead of challenging and making a playoff run, the Coyotes are headed in the opposite direction.
“We have too many guys not working hard,” Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. “Plus, the same guys are making the same mistakes over and over. Consequently, you’re not going to be successful.”
Notes: Coyotes defenceman Derek Morris (12 points, minus-13 in 57 games) was a healthy scratch, leading to speculation he’ll be moved by the trading deadline Wednesday. … McClement has scored a goal in each of his last three games. … Phoenix now embarks on a five-game trip, beginning Thursday night in Boston.