Dave Campbell / AP Sports Writer, Published April 11 2013
St. Louis wins its sixth straight game with shutout of Minnesota Wild
Eleven days ago, they were on opposite paths. Brian Elliott was a little-used backup goalie then.
Elliott notched his third straight shutout, stretching his streak to 189 minutes, 31 seconds without a goal, and the Blues won their sixth consecutive game by beating the Wild 2-0 on Thursday night.
“Chemistry is that elusive animal that you try to catch up to,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “When you’ve got it, it feels like you’re never going to lose. When you don’t have it, it feels like you’re never going to win. ... We’ve got a real good spirit, and we don’t want to let go of the rope.”
These turnarounds have been uncanny since the beginning of the month. The Blues beat the Wild on the road 4-1 on April 1 and haven’t lost since. The Wild have barely been able to score.
“We have nothing to apologize for and nothing to feel sorry about,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said. “We played, obviously, a strong team, and we played a good game.”
Roman Polak ended a
120-game streak without a goal, and Andy McDonald also scored, sending the Wild to their sixth loss in eight games. They have been shut out in three of four, the only times they have been blanked all season. The Wild have six goals in six games, and their scoreless streak is at 121 minutes, 25 seconds.
Jason Pominville’s shot hit the post in the opening minutes. An inch the other way, and this game could have gone differently.
“Sometimes those go in, sometimes those don’t,” Elliott said. “When they don’t, you’ve got to give the post a little tap and give it some love, because you can’t count on that all the time.”
The last time the Blues won at least six straight was Oct. 22-Nov. 7, 2010, a seven-game streak. They have given up five goals during the run.
St. Louis captain David Backes described the Blues’ struggles in February and March as “soul-searching” for the rhythm they enjoyed last season.
“I think we found that it’s worth putting that effort in and being exhausted and ice packs after the game if we get the results that we’ve got,” Backes said.
Elliott, who won his fifth straight decision, took over to start the second period on April 1 when starter Jaroslav Halak reinjured his groin and has been unbeatable since. An afterthought in February and March, whose struggles were obvious in that stretch when he did play, Elliott was even sent to the AHL for a two-game tuneup.
He was given only one start in a 22-game stretch for the Blues until that day Halak was hurt.
Elliott made 23 saves. He has stopped 118 of the last 122 shots he has faced.
“There is a lot of gripping the stick really tight and a lot of tension,” Yeo said. “If we think it’s intense and emotional and it’s tough right now, where we want to get to, the big ‘P’ word, it gets a little bit more. So this is part of it, learning how to deal with it.”
St. Louis 1 0 1 – 2
Minnesota 0 0 0 – 0
First period: 1, St. Louis, Polak 1 (Stewart, Porter), 10:37.
Third period: 2, St. Louis, McDonald 5 (Tarasenko, Backes), 9:30.
Shots on Goal – St. Louis 6-9-5 – 20. Minnesota 10-6-7 – 23.
Goalies: St. Louis, Elliott. Minnesota, Backstrom. A – 18,947 (17,954). T – 2:16.