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New scoring line helps Blues roll over Coyotes

by Jerry Brown

GLENDALE, Ariz. – There is chemistry. And then there is nitroglycerin. Right now, the St. Louis line of David Perron, Patrik Berglund and Chris Stewart are downright flammable.

Berglund scored his 10th and 11th goals of the season, Stewart added a goal and three assists and Perron had three assists as the Blues scored three times in a 4:47 span of the second period and rolled to a 6-3 win against the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night at Arena.

Alex Pietrangelo added a goal and an assist for the Blues, while minor league call-up Jake Allen made 23 saves for his fourth win in five NHL decisions.

With the likes of Andy McDonald, Alex Steen and Jamie Langenbrunner out with injuries, the Perron-Berglund-Stewart trio was put together four games ago by coach Ken Hitchcock. After a quiet first two games, they had five points Tuesday's 6-4 loss in Los Angeles and combined for nine to help the Blues pass the Coyotes in the Western Conference standings.

"The Berglund line was outstanding. They really have a good thing going and hopefully that continues," Hitchcock said. "We were an opportunistic team tonight. We still have a ways to go, but it was good to see us get rewarded."

Scott Nichol added his first goal to cap the second-period scoring burst and Vladimir Sobotka – coming on the ice for Berglund – scored with help from Stewart and Perron in the third.

"Should have stayed out a little longer," Berglund joked of that third-period shift. "It's going well for our line right now. We're sticking with simple plays, getting stuff to the net and it's paying off. We're shooting pucks with people in front, finding rebounds and working hard. A night like this will make you do all that again."

Phoenix goalie Mike Smith stopped just 23 of 29 shots and has allowed 18 goals on 114 shots in his last four appearances, pushing his goals-against average to 3.09 – 39th among NHL goalies. His save percentage of .894 ranks 34th.

"Mike made some good saves, but there are other ones I'm sure he'd like to have back," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "I know he wanted to have a really good game after taking a couple of days off to work on things. I didn't think we were very good in front of him either."

David Moss, Shane Doan and Keith Yandle scored for the Coyotes, who lost for the second time in as many nights and have hit the halfway point in the 48-game season with a pedestrian 11-10-3 record.

Turnovers and poor coverage in the defensive zone continue to haunt them. The top defensive pair of Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Zbynek Michalek was a combined minus-7 against the Blues.

"That wasn't our team right there," Tippett said. "We didn't defend very well and we gave up easy goals that made the game a lot harder than it should be. The turnovers concern you because it's the same people doing it in the same place at the same part. We'll continue to address it but if it doesn't get cleaned up we'll have to try different options."

The Blues didn't have a decent scoring chance until 13 minutes in, but they made the most of it. With the Coyotes running around in their own end, Smith stopped Pietrangelo's shot from the right point -- but the rebound squirted right to Stewart, who had half a net to shoot at and didn't miss at 13:07.

The Coyotes' penalty kill provided some spark. Boyd Gordon broke up a pass at the Phoenix blue line and chipped it ahead to Moss to send him on alone. Allen appeared to make the save, but the puck dribbled between his legs and over the line for Phoenix's first shorthanded goal of the year at 18:54. Moss' third goal of the season was his first in nine games.

Phoenix took its first lead 41 seconds into the second period thanks to a Blues misplay. Allen played the puck behind his net but didn't get much on the pass. Martin Hanzal pushed the skidding puck into the slot where Doan stepped into his seventh goal of the season.

But Allen closed the door from there, and the Blues and the Berglund line turned the game quickly. "They picked up their intensity and we didn't match it," Doan said.

At 5:40, Berglund put a shot up high that Smith stopped with his blocker but pushed back to the slot. It bounced between two players and Berglund converted the rebound for the tying goal. Just 2:12 later, Berglund puller a Perron pass out of his skates, twirled and lifted a backhander that deflected up off defenseman Derek Morris' stick and over Smith's shoulder to give the Blues the lead for good.

"I kind almost blacked out there," Berglund said, smiling. "I turned around to protect the puck and I was so close, I threw a backhand up. I didn't really know where I was aiming but it found the net."

It became 4-2 just 2:24 later when Kyle Chipchura was leveled by Ryan Reaves as he coughed up the puck behind the Phoenix net. Jaden Schwartz steered the puck to Nichol in the slot for another point-blank goal, and the Coyotes never recovered.

The Blues polished off the win with two more in the third. Poor Phoenix defensive coverage allowed Perron and Stewart to set up Sobotka with a tic-tac-toe goal at 6:53 before Pietrangelo banged home a 4-on-4 rebound at 15:04, negating any effect from Keith Yandle's power-play goal with 25 seconds to play.

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