CALGARY – The save of the season may have just been made by a rookie starting his second game in the NHL.
It was one of 30 saves for Blues rookie goaltender Jake Allen as St. Louis won 5-2 over the Calgary Flames on Friday.
The play that had the Scotiabank Saddledome sellout crowd buzzing and was up on YouTube not long after was Allen’s stop off T.J. Brodie halfway through the first period.
Looking to cut into a 2-0 deficit, Calgary burst into the Blues’ end on an odd-man rush and, in a slick display of passing, Jiri Hudler sent the puck to Alex Tanguay in the slot, who promptly zipped it back to Hudler. He quickly fired it back across to Brodie, who was breaking in on an open net.
“I saw the guy out of the corner of my eye and it was desperation. I didn’t have much of a chance so I just threw my stick out there and fortunately enough for me, it hit it and it popped right up so I could catch it right away too,” said 22-year-old Allen, who looked nonchalant the whole way.
“I took a deep breath after that. It’s one of those saves that you thank the hockey gods for and it was a big boost for us as we got two more goals after that.”
The stunning save left an exasperated Brodie shaking his head in disbelief.
“Unbelievable. Probably the best save of the year and impressive that he did that in his second NHL game,” said David Perron, who scored twice for St. Louis. “We all thought it’s going to be a goal and then it’s not. Wow, we thought, we owe him one right there.”
Allen said he expects his cell phone to be buzzing for a while.
“I’m sure I’ll get a few texts from my buddies back home but it was a big stop, probably one of the luckier ones I’ve ever made, but sometimes it’s good to be lucky,” Allen said.
With Jaroslav Halak ailing and Brian Elliott struggling, Allen made his second straight start and makes it back-to-back wins on his young NHL career.
“This is now five periods of really strong hockey. Moving forward, we’ll see if he gets another start and if he does, hopefully he can continue to play the same way,” said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock. “But we need Halak back, he’s a heck of a goalie and we need to get him back and running here. He’s going to practise full with the team tomorrow and then we’ll see where he’s at.”
Rookie Jaden Schwartz, with his first of the season, Patrik Berglund and Alex Steen also scored for St. Louis (8-5-1). After going winless in five, the Blues have won two in a row and will try to make it a perfect three-game road trip when they play Vancouver on Sunday.
Dennis Wideman and Curtis Glencross scored for Calgary (4-5-3), which lost in regulation for the first time in four games. The Flames head out on a short road trip that sees them play in Dallas on Sunday and Phoenix on Monday.
The Flames tried to fight back in the second outshooting the Blues 15-5 and getting a goal from Wideman on the power play. Glencross scored again 2:46 into the third to make it 4-2 but Perron scored again on the power play less than two minutes later.
“We dig ourselves a really big hole against a very good hockey team,” said Wideman. “Anytime you spot a team like that four goals in the first, it’s not going to be too many times you’re going to be able to come back on them.”
Joey MacDonald took over in the Flames net for starter Leland Irving just over four minutes into the game after St. Louis scored on two of its first four shots.
In his Flames debut, the 33-year-old finished with 18 saves in getting tagged with the loss.
Calgary started fast Wednesday with a 4-1 lead after the first period in a 7-4 win over Dallas, but the opposite happened against the Blues.
“Offensively, we had everything going that game but we gave Dallas a lot of chances and our goalies played well,” Wideman said. “We gave St. Louis the same amount of chances and they buried every opportunity and that was the big difference.”
St. Louis finished 2 for 4 on the power play. It was the eighth consecutive game the Blues have connected with the extra man, going an impressive 12 for 32 over that stretch.
Calgary, which entered the night with the league’s second best power play, went 1 for 4.
“We shouldn’t even be talking about our goalies tonight. We just didn’t give them a chance,” said Flames head coach Bob Hartley. “We handed them the game. A couple of bad turnovers in the first period in our zone, giveaways, and that’s a team simply too deep in talent to give them point-blank shots. We fought back, but the damage was done.”
Notes: Attendance was of 19,289. … Schwartz’s dad was at the game. … The Blues announced that RW Jamie Langenbrunner underwent successful hip surgery. The 37-year-old is lost for the season. … Iginla played in career game No. 1,200. … Flames D Jay Bouwmeester extended his iron man streak to 600 games. It is the NHL’s longest active streak. Doug Jarvis holds the all-time mark of 964 games. … Calgary D Anton Babchuk made his season debut.