NEWARK, N.J. – Ty Conklin has gone from backup goalie to a key part of the St. Louis Blues’ late-season push for a playoff spot.
Conklin made 29 saves in his fourth shutout of the season, and the Blues beat the New Jersey Devils 1-0 on Saturday night.
Conklin made a second straight start, both road victories for the Blues. He has four shutouts and 10 wins in only 23 games this season. Conklin beat the New York Rangers on Thursday.
“It’s amazing what he’s able to do,” Blues coach Davis Payne said. “He’d been on the bench for a while and all of a sudden, he was thrown into the fire. To perform like that takes a guy with great focus and a great amount of intensity to step in, see the guy at the other end of the ice, and find a way to beat him 1-zip.”
Conklin got the best of Martin Brodeur, the NHL’s career shutout leader with 108. It was the 14th shutout for Conklin.
“I certainly felt better in the early going than I did the other night,” Conklin said. “They didn’t get too many shots early. That was the mirror image for both teams. It obviously got tighter in the second and the third periods.”
Conklin’s latest shutout couldn’t have come at a better time for the Blues, who won for the ninth time in 12 games and improved to 9-4 in their past 13 on the road.
“We know where we’re at,” Conklin said. “We have to win the majority of our games.”
Alexander Steen gave Conklin all the offensive support he needed, scoring with 13 seconds left in the first period. After taking a long lead pass from Barret Jackman, Steen sped down the left wing and unleashed a shot from the top of the circle that blew past Brodeur’s glove into the upper corner.
It was Steen’s sixth goal in nine games.
The Devils came close to pulling even three minutes into the second period as Ilya Kovalchuk attacked the Blues net. Conklin sprawled to his left, trying to knock the puck away. He missed. Kovalchuk circled behind the cage, heading for the wide-open side, but was denied by backchecking centre Brad Boyes who alertly blocked the stuff attempt.
Kovalchuk has gone four games without a goal, leaving him with only five in 16 games with the Devils.
“It’s been almost for the last four games,” Kovalchuk said. “I have to put that in.”
New Jersey outshot St. Louis 13-6 in the middle period but couldn’t dent Conklin.
Conklin preserved the shutout in the third period with an arm save on Zach Parise’s shot from the slot with 12 minutes left. It was his best stop of the final frame.
The Devils had a five-game, home-winning streak snapped and missed a chance to take over first place in the Atlantic Division.
Devils coach Jacques Lemaire blamed the loss on a sluggish start. The Devils went 9 1/2 minutes before getting their first shot on Conklin.
“I feel the first period was a little flat,” Lemaire said. “We didn’t show as much as we did in the second and the third. We didn’t show that we were going to work hard enough to win the game.”
NOTES: Travis Zajac played in his 308th consecutive game, moving past teammate Jay Pandolfo into fourth place in Devils history. Ken Daneyko holds the team mark with 388 straight games. … The Blues last played in New Jersey in the 2006-07 season. … LW Brian Rolston returned to the Devils lineup after sitting out one game with a lower body injury. D Paul Martin played his third straight game for New Jersey after missing 59 because of a broken left arm. … Former Devils forward Cam Janssen and Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond staged a heavyweight bout at 5:58 of the first, an old-fashioned fight that lasted over two minutes. The linesmen finally separated the exhausted players after both landed flurries of solid blows. … Blues D Roman Polak had to be helped off the ice when he was checked hard into the end boards in the closing seconds.