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Shattenkirk lifts Blues past Hurricanes

by Kurt Dusterberg /

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The St. Louis Blues haven't had many worries recently. But coming off a 6-0-1 homestand, coach Ken Hitchcock thought they had something to prove.

So when Kevin Shattenkirk scored the only goal of the shootout in a 3-2 win against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena on Friday, the Blues did more than extend their winning streak to four games.

"This was a big game to win," Hitchcock said. "We played back to back, and our record was only two games over .500 on the road (11-9-2). To start off the second half of the season with a big road win is important, so they deserve a lot of credit."

The Blues (31-13-4) are 9-0-1 in their past 10 games and had an impressive start to this game. After a strong forechecking shift, Steve Ott threw a no-look backhand pass to Ryan Reaves between the circles, where he got a quick shot past Hurricanes goalie Anton Khudobin at 1:58 of the first period.

Reaves, who has a goal in two straight games, credited newly linemate Marcel Goc, acquired in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday, for adding a boost to the fourth line.

"Goc has come in here, and the chemistry seems to be there early," said Reaves, who had five shots and six hits. "He's adding a little patience to our line, especially in the defensive zone. He's getting the puck out so me and [Steve] can go to work in the offensive zone."

The Blues kept the pressure on the Hurricanes (17-25-6), scoring 1:27 later to take a 2-0 lead. After defenseman Justin Faulk blocked a shot, Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo fed David Backes in the slot for his 17th goal, eighth in his past nine games.

"It seems to be a commonality for the team on the second game of a back-to-back," Backes said. "You're already into the swing of things. You sort of pick up where you left off."

The momentum quickly stalled when the Hurricanes pulled Khudobin in favor of Cam Ward, who made 29 saves in relief.

"The thing that helped Carolina was changing the goalie," Hitchcock said. "They hit the reset button. We had the two shifts where we hit the goal post then missed the empty net. Otherwise, it's 3-0 or 4-0."

Carolina answered on its first shot of the game at 10:57. Forward Jay McClement's hard work in the corner paid off when he found Faulk, who lifted a wrist shot from the right point past the screen of Brad Malone to make it 2-1.

Carolina tied the game in the second period on its first power play. Ryan Murphy's shot from inside the blue line deflected off Backes and bounced past Allen at 14:19. The goal was Murphy's first of the season and was assisted by Riley Nash and Jordan Staal.

"They just woke up, to be honest," Shattenkirk said. "They came with a much harder game and much better push. That was the team we expected to see."

Neither team scored again in regulation, but the goaltenders were sharp. Allen stopped a wrist shot by Jeff Skinner and a tip by Jordan Staal in overtime, two of his 26 saves. Ward was at his best in the third period, stopping shots by Paul Stastny and T.J. Oshie in a flurry in the final minutes.

"Towards the end, in the second half of the back-to-back, we didn't have as much legs," said Backes, who extended his career-best point streak to nine games. "Jake did a good job keeping us in there."

Allen then held the Hurricanes at bay on all three shots in the shootout, although Chris Terry appeared to have him beat.

"I just try to be as patient as I can, just sort of outwait them," said Allen, who also stopped Victor Rask and Eric Staal. "Terry made a nice move, and luckily it got the crossbar. Sometimes it's a crapshoot, but you just try to outwait the guy."

Shattenkirk, who scored the shootout winner Thursday in a 5-4 win against the Nashville Predators, beat Ward inside the post to the blocker side. The Blues defenseman has seven game-deciding shootout goals among his eight successful attempts.

"I try to look to shoot, and if it's there, I go for it," he said. "Luckily, it surprised [Ward] a little bit."

Carolina's loss was a blemish on a strong January, when they are 7-2-2.

"I don't really have an explanation why but it was definitely a slow start," Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. "It was 2-0 but it could have been 3-0. The goalie change was more to slow their momentum down and obviously not a reflection on the goaltender. They were apologizing to [Khudobin] before he got within 50 feet of the bench."

The Blues will play three of the next four on the road, including on Sunday at the Washington Capitals.

"We wanted to come in after the All-Star break with the same confidence," Reaves said. "We've come off the break feeling good and we're keeping it rolling."

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