The Blues finished their three-game Northwest Division road trip with a 3-0-0 record Wednesday night when Brad Boyes and T.J. Oshie scored shootout goals in a 2-1 victory over the slumping Calgary Flames, capping the first perfect Western Canada trip in 27 tries franchise history.
“It’s a special moment for our guys,” Blues coach Andy Murray said. “Keith Tkachuk was in the room telling the guys he did it once before, but he’s getting a little senile at his age. This is the first time that a Blues team has won three (straight) games in (Western Canada); that just shows you the caliber of teams they have out here.”
St. Louis’ Patrick Berglund scored the only goal of the first 40 minutes, while Calgary’s Mark Giordano tied the score with 7:42 remaining in regulation -- only the 19th goal by the Flames in their last 10 games.
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“I don’t know. I think maybe we’re pressing a bit too much. The effort’s there — trying to get to the net, and get pucks there,” shrugged forward David Moss. “It’s a matter of getting that timely goal when you really need it. It’s frustrating when you don’t get the results, and you feel like you did some things well.
“But we definitely can’t hit the panic button. Hopefully, if we keep sticking with it, we’ll start getting more offense.”
Blues goaltender Chris Mason stopped 23 Flames shots, while Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff made 26 saves.
The Blues entered the game with the best road winning percentage in the NHL’s Western Conference (.719), and boosted that average by pushing their record outside of Missouri to 11-3-3.
"It was a tough trip. Not one or two good plays that got us the three wins. It was everyone grinding for 60 minutes," said Oshie, who celebrated his 23rd birthday.
Andy McDonald, the first St. Louis shooter, was stopped by Kiprusoff to begin the shootout, but Boyes and Oshie then scored in succession, with Oshie's shot going in off Kiprusoff's pad. Nigel Dawes, the first Flames shooter, missed on the backhand, while Olli Jokinen, up next for Calgary, hit the post. That gave the Blues the first three-game sweep in Western Canada since the Flames moved to Calgary from Atlanta in 1980. They had beaten Vancouver 3-1 on Sunday and won 7-2 at Edmonton on Monday.
Mason got plenty of help from his teammates, who blocked 22 shots -- including five by defensemen Eric Brewer, who returned after missing 13 games with a back injury, Carlo Colaiacovo.
“It’s a tough building to play in, and the guys did a great job tonight,” Mason said. “For the most part, I saw everything, and when I didn’t see it, we blocked it. A good job in general.”
Berglund’s fifth goal of the season, at 6:55 of the second period, caught most of the Flames, including Kiprusoff, going the other way. Mike Weaver’s point shot hit the end boards wide of the net, and as Flames defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Aaron Johnson started to move behind the net, the puck bounced out to a wide-open Berglund, who buried it into the far corner of the cage.
But Giordano answered at 12:18 of the third period with his third goal of the season, off a faceoff to Mason’s right. Giordano’s left-point shot appeared to hit the leg of Weaver, changed direction and beat Mason to the glove side.
St. Louis (17-14-5), which had occupied the conference basement only a week ago, is now within scratching distance of playoff territory in the West, sitting four points back of the eighth-place Dallas Stars.
“It was an intense hockey game," Murray said. "There wasn’t a lot of room to play out there, but the guys battled and we found a way to get it done. We played with solid structure; we were good in the neutral zone; I think we outchanced the Flames here tonight. And it was a tight hockey game, almost a playoff-type feeling.”
The flickering Flames (20-11-5), meanwhile, have fallen to seventh place in the West after going 1-3-2 in their past six games. They're also a pedestrian 9-6-2 at the Saddledome this season. Calgary is three points in back of the Colorado Avalanche for top spot in the Northwest Division, with three games in hand.
Brent Sutter’s squad was left to lick its wounds and lament lost chances, a handful of which came early in the second period. Mason stuck out a glove to stop Jokinen’s backhanded attempt on a breakaway; the Blues netminder also got a blocker on Dustin Boyd’s drive after a 2-on-1 with Jarome Iginla; and Rene Bourque, who burned down the right wing past a falling Brewer, fired high and wide.
“We did have some quality chances,” Sutter said. “St. Louis did a real good job of blocking a lot of shots. It was one of those games — a tight-checking, in-the-trenches type game.
“We had puck possession, but we never created a whole lot off our cycle. We need to get opportunities off our cycle. That’s puck management. And we’ve got to find ways to win games at home here.”