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Blues snap losing streak against Senators

by Chris Stevenson

OTTAWA -- The St. Louis Blues ended a two-game losing streak and did it with an almost flawless third period in a 3-2 win against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on Saturday.

The Blues allowed five shots in the third period on goaltender Brian Elliott. With the game on the line, the Blues held the Senators without a shot for a stretch of 6:20, ending with a shot by Mika Zibanejad with 3:04 left in the third period.

“We’ve had that habit in the past where we’ve sat back on our heels and teams just come at us in waves and waves and waves,” Blues captain David Backes said. “I think we did a better job of getting it in there, not sitting on our heels, getting on our toes and making sure they had to come through 200 feet to score goals. They had a few chances. [Elliott] stood tall and made a few big saves, but for the most part, we took pretty good care of the puck in the third.”

Elliott, who played four seasons with the Senators, made 24 saves to improve to 8-4-1. He was backed by goals from Maxim Lapierre (his first), Vladimir Tarasenko, with his team-leading 12th, and Alexander Steen (his fourth).

Zibanejad and Erik Karlsson scored for the Senators, each on the power play.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said he was impressed with the way they pushed the play in the Senators zone in the third. The Blues outshot the Senators 15-5 in the period.

“We don’t play well in a three-quarter-ice game when we’re defending. We don’t play that well,” Hitchcock said. “We’re better off playing on our toes and we were able to do that for most of the third period. It’s a good feeling for all of us.”

The Senators' struggles in the afternoon continued. They were 4-12-2 in afternoon starts last season and lost their first matinee this season.

The loss for the Senators (9-6-4) was their second in regulation on home ice (5-2-3).

Ottawa goaltender Robin Lehner, who started for the second game in a row, made 30 saves.

“We had our chances to come back. [Elliott] made some nice saves in the end,” Lehner said. “They play very structured, they’re well coached and they have a lot of good players. But I think we had our chances to tie it up, but it doesn’t always happen.”

The Blues opened the scoring at 4:16 of the first period on a good job of forechecking by Steve Ott. He checked an Ottawa defenseman off the puck along the right-wing boards and Blues forward Maxim Lapierre snapped up the loose puck. He skated along the blue line and made a smooth deke on Senators defenseman Cody Ceci, giving himself a path to the net.

Lapierre’s shot from close in found its way through Lehner and trickled over the goal line.

After Zibanejad scored on the power play to tie the game 1-1 at 16:23 of the first period, the Blues went back in front 12 seconds later when Tarasenko took a pass from Jori Lehtera and snapped a rising shot by Lehner.

Some energetic work by Steen put the Blues ahead 3-1 at 12:45 of the second period. He carried the puck into the Ottawa zone down the right wing where he fought off a check from Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki in the corner. Momentarily off balance, Steen righted himself and kept control of the puck. After working it back to the point, he headed for the front of the net where he tipped a shot by defenseman Jay Bouwmeester that found the corner behind Lehner.

Hitchcock said he liked what he saw from Steen, who had 33 goals in 68 games last season.

“I was really happy with [Steen’s] game today,” Hitchcock said. “That was the Steen we saw play last year. He was really determined. He made a huge impact in the game. That was a really good sign. He did a lot of that work on his own and got to the net there. He was a major force in the game today.”

Karlsson cut the Blues lead to 3-2 at 15:21 of the second period with Ottawa’s second power-play goal of the game and the Senators' 11th goal with the man-advantage on home ice this season. They had 16 last season.

Karlsson, who missed the net with a high shot seconds earlier, walked the blue line and snapped a knee-high shot through a crowd that beat Elliott to the glove-hand side. Karlsson has a knack for getting his shot through traffic.

“It’s kind of known around the League that he’s able to do that from the point,” Elliott said. “We were aware of it and we talked about it and it still happened and that’s why it stings a little more.”

Karlsson said, “That’s one of those situations you just try and put it through. You have traffic in front and then I had a couple of other ones when there’s a quality scoring chance and I try and hit my spot, but unfortunately didn’t. On those I don’t really think about getting anything through. I just try and go bar and in.

“We tried our best today and they were just a little better.”

Bouwmeester left the game in the third period.

“I think he stepped on a crack in the ice, so he’s got a lower-body ailment right now,” Hitchcock said. “We’ll see how he is in the morning.”

The Blues wrap up a four-game road trip Sunday at the Winnipeg Jets.

Senators defenseman Chris Phillips, who missed two games earlier this month with a lower-body injury, was scratched and replaced in the lineup by Patrick Wiercioch.

The Senators leave Sunday on a 10-day, five-game road trip. They play 11 of their next 15 games on the road.

The Senators and Blues play Tuesday in St. Louis.

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