ST. LOUIS – Lee Stempniak never expected his first-period goal to stand up as the winner.
“No, especially the way games are now,” Stempniak said after the Blues beat the Carolina Hurricanes 1-0 on Saturday night. “You never think it’s going to be a one-goal game. Usually it takes four goals to win a game.
“I think we get lucky to have (goalies) Manny (Legace) and Hannu (Toivonen), who keep us in a lot of games without having to score a bunch of goals.”
Stempniak’s 50th NHL goal was enough because Legace stopped 27 saves to make the little bit of offence stand up.
Stempniak scored his ninth of the season 12:49 in with a quick redirection from the slot between Michael Leighton’s pads off a feed from Jay McKee.
“Jay made the pass out front and I just tried shovelling it five-hole,” Stempniak said. “It didn’t go in right away. It looked like it got caught up in there and sort of rolled in.”
Leighton, making his second start in two nights, thought he might have a save but didn’t know where the puck went.
“Their guy passed it out front and it was a quick touch between my legs,” Leighton said.
Legace’s 21st shutout, third this season, helped the Blues snap a four-game losing streak at home (0-2-2). Legace has eight shutouts with St. Louis after posting 13 with Detroit.
“When it’s 1-0, guys are still grinding it out,” Legace said. “You still feel it. You still feel the intensity in your body.”
Legace, who hasn’t allowed a goal in his last three outings, made the first critical save in the third period when he stopped Chad LaRose’s shot from the slot.
“I thought we played hard,” Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. “I thought we held an edge, but that doesn’t matter. The score matters. They won the game 1-0. It’s disappointing.”
Frantisek Kaberle’s one-timer from the high slot seconds into a power play with 12:30 left rang off the top of the crossbar.
“Our goaltending was solid and our defence got better as the game went on,” Blues coach Andy Murray said.
St. Louis struggled on the power play, going 0-for-4 against the league’s worst penalty-killing unit. The Blues have failed on 28 straight power-play chances and are ranked last in the NHL. Carolina was also 0-for-4 with the man advantage.
Notes: A pair of fights broke out two seconds apart midway through the first period. The first had Carolina’s Wade Brookbank go up against St. Louis’ D.J. King. The second pitted Craig Adams of Carolina against Dan Hinote of St. Louis. The Blues welcomed F Andy McDonald (chest) and D Barret Jackman (concussion) back into the lineup. The Hurricanes played Friday night in Atlanta and won 4-3. They are 3-6-1 in the second of back-to-back games. This was the furthest west the Hurricanes will travel this season. It was the first of three they play outside the Eastern time zone. The teams hadn’t met in St. Louis since Oct. 15, 2002, a 2-1 Blues victory in overtime. … The Blues are 12-1 when leading after two periods.