ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Blues thought they had solved their goaltending issues when they traded for Jaroslav Halak in 2010.
After some bumpy stretches, Halak is starting to live up to his team’s lofty expectations.
Halak continued a strong stretch of recent play Monday night by making 22 saves en route to his third shutout and the St. Louis Blues blanked the Dallas Stars 1-0.
He is not taking all the credit for his recent success, though.
“Guys are scoring big goals for me,” Halak said. “It’s all timing. Sometimes I need to make the key saves for them to keep the score tied and sometimes, they come up big for me. It’s a combination right now.”
T.J. Oshie came through for Halak on Monday, as his goal at 11:26 of the third period broke a scoreless tie.
The Blues have earned 13 out of a possible 14 points this month (6-0-1) and are tied with the New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks atop the NHL standings with 60 points.
St. Louis improved to 19-3-3 at the Scottrade Center and set a single-season club record by earning at least a point at home for the 13th straight game.
“Getting into the 60s is good,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “If we can quickly plow a way and get through the 70s now, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. For me, it’s about the points.”
Halak, who has 19 career shutouts, has been a big part of that streak, going 9-0-3 in his past 12 starts. He did not have any margin for error Monday.
“We knew it was going to be tight going in,” Halak said. “After the second period when it was tied, we just needed to play our game.”
Dallas lost for only the second time when allowing two or fewer goals (20-2-0). The Stars were blanked 1-0 by the Los Angeles Kings on Oct. 22.
“We worked hard against a very good club,” Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan said. “We got into a position to have some success. We got it into a next goal win game and it just wasn’t us that got it.”
Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen (31 saves) was the hard-luck loser. In 10 career starts against St. Louis, Lehtonen has yet to allow more than two goals.
“When we went to the third period, we felt pretty good,” Lehtonen said. “They took it up another level and were able to get that one goal, which was all that was needed today.”
Lehtonen frustrated the Blues for more than 50 minutes Monday before Oshie and David Perron broke into the offensive zone and executed a perfect give-and-go.
Oshie got the puck back in the slot and deked Lehtonen out of position before sliding the puck into the net. Oshie’s goal at 11:26 of the third period was his 14th.
“They made a nice pass,” Lehtonen said. “I kind of felt like he was going to shoot right away and tried to get over. He’s a great player and he can see I’m doing that and held on to the puck and made it look pretty easy.”
Oshie said that move dates back to his youth hockey days.
“My coach Mike Murphy in pee-wee’s always told me any pass down low, grab it and cut back across,” Oshie said. “Since it was on my backhand, right away when he started sliding across, I knew what I was doing.”
Notes: Blues defenceman Alex Pietrangelo had his six-game scoring streak snapped. … Stars leading scorer Jamie Benn was a scratch as he recovers from an appendectomy early Sunday. … The Blues have not allowed a third-period goal in nine games. … Dallas’ Loui Eriksson was called for hooking in the third period, just his third penalty of the season. Eriksson is one of four NHL players with at least 40 points and less than 10 penalty minutes (40 points, six penalty minutes). … Dallas is 3 for 39 on the power play in its past 12 games.