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Allen's second straight shutout lifts Blues past Devils

by Mike G. Morreale / NHL.com

NEWARK, N.J. -- St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock is no longer surprised by the play of goaltender Jake Allen.

It's gotten to the point where he expects him to keep the Blues within striking distance each game and Allen did just that on Tuesday. The 25-year-old had his second straight shutout with 24 saves to lead the Blues to a 2-0 victory against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center.

"Each time I get on the ice I feel more at ease and more comfortable," Allen said. "I've said before the more games I play, the better I feel and that's been the scenario since last year. There will be some bumps in the road, but it's going the way I want it to go right now."

Two former New Jersey players teamed up for the first goal in the second period when Martin Havlat converted a pass from Scott Gomez at 4:57.

"It feels great and we won so that's even better," Havlat said. "It's nice to be part of an NHL game. I still love the game so I'm happy the Blues gave me a chance."

Havlat played 40 games with the Devils last season, but was not re-signed. The 34-year-old, who made his season debut on Tuesday, signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Blues on Friday.

"I was dying out there in the end, so I was happy we finished it in regulation," Havlat, who had 14:14 of ice time said. "We had a great game. We were a little rusty in the first period but got better in the second and third."

Magnus Paajarvi also scored for the Blues (11-3-1), winners of three straight.

Hitchcock liked the energy and enthusiasm that Havlat brought to his third line with center Gomez and right wing Troy Brouwer. Gomez, who had 34 points in 58 games with the Devils last season, signed a one-year contract with the Blues on Oct. 7. He has seven points in 10 games this season.

"That line was good; our third and fourth line [with Paajarvi, Kyle Brodziak and Dmitrij Jaskin] were excellent," Hitchcock said. "We got great minutes from each line. [Havlat] is a good smart player and the way we're built right now, he helps us a lot. He's got patience with the puck and that's what we need. It allows me to use other people in certain situations so I'm not tiring out young guys or putting them in tough spots so [Havlat] was a good add."

The Blues are without forwards Patrik Berglund (shoulder), Paul Stastny (foot), Jaden Schwartz (ankle) and Steve Ott (upper body).

"We're missing three or four of our top players, to be honest, and to be able to see guys come in and step up like Havlat was great," Allen said. "He had a great game for his first of the season, that's a tough spot to come in but guys have to find ways to get it done."

Cory Schneider made 26 saves for the Devils (8-6-1), who were shut out for the first time this season. The Blues outshot the Devils, 22-13, in the final two periods.

"We were two steps behind in the first and then played a great second and third," Hitchcock said. "We got up to the speed of the game. That's as hard as someone's been on us from a forechecking standpoint in all three zones. We wanted to make plays instead of playing it territorial, so when we played territorial in the second and third, we really played well."

Devils coach John Hynes pulled Schneider for an extra attacker with 1:17 left in the third.

Defenseman Damon Severson took a shot from the right point that beat Allen, but the goal came after time had run out to end the game.

"We have to go back and figure out what happened between the first and second and make sure we don't have that kind of lull coming out of a really good period in the first," Schneider said. "We have to figure out a way to play like that for three periods."

Allen made a career-high 45 saves in a 4-0 victory against the Nashville Predators on Saturday. He has allowed two or fewer goals in seven straight games (6-1-0). He made 11 saves in the first before the Blues dictated play over the final two periods. Allen made several big saves in the third denying Adam Henrique and Mike Cammalleri on consecutive shots at 10:31.

"You have to give a lot of credit to St. Louis; they turned up the temperature in the second period and played real strong," Hynes said. "We never got back to the level we were at in the first period. It was a combination of credit to them and we didn't have enough push back to raise our level to really make a strong impact on the game after the first.

"There's a lot of good things they do. They're well organized, big strong team, they play well and don't beat themselves."

Hitchcock wouldn't commit to his starter on Thursday when the Blues close out a four-game road trip at the New York Rangers, even though Allen has made 96 consecutive and not allowed a goal in 166 minutes.

"He's playing solid and has been aggressive and when he's at the top of the crease and being aggressive, that's a good thing," Hitchcock said.

Paajarvi's first goal of the season gave the Blues a 2-0 lead 3:28 into the third. After taking a pass low in the right circle, Paajarvi took a quick shot that beat Schneider, who couldn't get across in time. It was Paajarvi's first goal since March 6, 2014.

The Devils will next play at the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday before returning home against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.

Havlat praised his former team after the game.

"They have a lot of young guns [in their lineup]," Havlat said of the Devils. "They had a great start to the season and are playing well. If they keep playing the way they are, they'll be fine."

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