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Comeau's three points lead Penguins past Blues

by Louie Korac

ST. LOUIS -- The Pittsburgh Penguins had scored three goals in three consecutive losses. They figured their offensive woes were bound to change.

They didn't need Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin to carry them against the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center on Saturday. Blake Comeau had two goals and an assist to help the Penguins get out of their funk in a 4-2 win.

It was Pittsburgh's first victory in regulation at St. Louis since Nov. 1, 2008.

"We're playing a very good team; I know they had a back-to-back and that's a factor in the game for sure, but St. Louis is one of the better teams as far as structure, how they play the game and I thought for two and a half periods, we were really good," Penguins coach Mike Johnston said. "I thought all four of our lines contributed, our six defensemen and the power play started to convert."

"It's nice to get four there and generate some chances," Crosby said. "Just a really well-rounded game."

Johnston mixed up his top two line combinations and it seemed to have a jolt in the Penguins' offense.

"Any time you don't feel your team's playing as well as it should, you can mix and match some pieces on your lines," Johnston said. "Sometimes it works and gives you jump and sometimes it doesn't. I thought tonight it did. We actually mixed up all four lines there for a while. It seemed like there was new energy, new life."

Patric Hornqvist scored a power-play goal, the Penguins' first in 10 games, Brandon Sutter had a goal and Thomas Greiss made 21 saves.

Comeau, who played with Malkin and Chris Kunitz on Saturday, benefited the most.

"We played a little together earlier in the season before I was injured and I thought we had some good chemistry then," Comeau said. "I feel like me and [Malkin] play off each other real well and [Kunitz] plays a lot like [Hornqvist]. It felt good to be able to contribute. We weren't scoring a lot of goals lately, so sometimes it's nice to be able to switch things up."

The Blues (38-17-4) lost for the second time in three games during a four-game homestand; they defeated the Boston Bruins 5-1 on Friday. Dmitrij Jaskin and Ian Cole scored, Vladimir Tarasenko had two assists and Brian Elliott made 25 saves.

The Blues missed out on a chance to pull within three points of Central Division-leading Nashville Predators with a game in hand, but they suffered from another slow start. St. Louis allowed the first goal of the game in the first period for the third time on this homestand.

"I think you have slow starts when you're not connected in your team play," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We're a team that relies on structure, puck support, discipline with puck support, everybody in the same page. Some teams can maybe play on 70 percent on the same page; we're not one and we're on 70 percent.

"This is the same feeling early in December. It's the same feeling ... off the page, not all in sync so we get exposed a little bit."

The Penguins took a 1-0 lead on Comeau's 13th of the season, and first against the Blues in 10 games, after a fortuitous bounce.

Blues forward Alexander Steen won a defensive zone faceoff, but defenseman Petteri Lindbohm's clearing attempt caromed into the slot, where Comeau backhanded a shot five-hole through Elliott with 3:29 remaining in the first period.

"I feel like the other teams are starting to get into playoff mode and I think we're a step behind," Blues right wing T.J. Oshie said. "It's taking us too long."

Hornqvist took a pass from Crosby in the slot and beat Elliott with a wrist shot 6:26 into the second to make it 2-0. The Penguins had gone 0-for-20 on the power play the previous nine games.

"We've been struggling on the power play, but even in the last game against Columbus, we did some good things," Hornqvist said. "We're moving the puck quicker and you just have to hit the net. Tonight, we hit the net."

Comeau scored again in the second period off a redirection in the high slot of a Simon Despres shot from the point with 4:22 left in the second to give Pittsburgh a 3-0 lead.

"We did a lot of things we've been preaching over the last couple weeks, getting guys to the net and specialty teams come up big, especially the way they did for us tonight," Comeau said.

Crosby thought he had scored his first goal against the Blues off a quick redirection of a cross-ice pass in the third period on the power play, but a lengthy eight-minute review went with the call on the ice. Officials ruled no goal with 15:14 remaining in the game.

Sutter scored with 7:39 remaining just as a Blues penalty expired on a wrist shot from the slot to make it 4-0.

Jaskin ended Greiss' shutout bid when his shot from the low slot squirted through the pads with 5:27 remaining after taking Jori Lehtera's feed. Cole's slap shot from the top of the right circle with 1:22 remaining cut the Penguins' lead to 4-2.

"Our third period was better, but for the most part, we're not playing good enough," Oshie said. "Our goalies have been out best players all year and we're hanging them out to dry right now."

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