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Tarasenko, Allen help Blues defeat Devils

by Mike G. Morreale

NEWARK, N.J. -- Right wing Vladimir Tarasenko made up for missed opportunities with the only goal of the game, scoring in the third period to give the St. Louis Blues a 1-0 win against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Tuesday.

A power-play goal by Tarasenko at 4:55 was all goaltender Jake Allen needed in his second straight shutout, making 26 saves in the Blues' sixth straight victory. It was the first appearance by Allen against the Devils; he made 24 saves in a 2-0 victory against the Anaheim Ducks on Oct. 30.

Tarasenko's game-winner came 17 seconds after Marek Zidlicky was whistled for holding Alexander Steen in the Devils zone. He took a feed from Jori Lehtera just outside the right circle before making his way to the faceoff dot and beating Cory Schneider on the short side.

"He came through for us," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "He felt badly missing the all the odd-man rushes he had in the first period (when he took two shots on goal and missed the net on another off a 2-on-1 breakout) but he snapped that one. That was a goal-scorer's goal because he knew exactly where the goalie was and he put it in the area that [the goalie] couldn't move on."

The 22-year-old Russian has seven goals and nine points in his past five games, and is responsible for seven of the Blues' 12 goals since Oct. 28.

"He's got a hot stick right now and he's proving how good a player he is and how good a goal-scorer he is," Allen said. "I'm happy for him. He's been leading this team the last few games and I just hope he can keep it up. He has one of the best shots I've ever seen."

The Blues (8-3-1), who were coming off a 4-3 shootout victory against the New York Rangers on Monday, begin a five-game homestand Thursday against the Devils at Scottrade Center.

"It is tough [to win back-to-back], especially against an Eastern team that you don't see a lot," Allen said. "But guys were prepared and did what they had to do and got the job the done. It doesn't have to be pretty right now."

Hitchcock said though winning back-to-back games is good, what's even more impressive is three wins in four nights, starting against the Colorado Avalanche on Nov. 1.

"I think three in four is more difficult with the travel involved," he said. "I was really happy with the way we played [Tuesday]. They were a rested opponent and this was our third game in four nights. The two previous games went into extra time so it was more than three games in four nights, but we were really well-organized the whole game. It was one of the best first periods we've played on the road; we checked the puck back hard."

The Devils (6-4-2), who were shut out for the first time this season, had a two-game win streak end. Schneider, who was making a personal-high 12th straight start, made 22 saves.

"I thought as the game went on you knew that whoever scored [first] was probably going to win and they got the first one," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said.

The game was the first of a home-and-home against the Blues and the first of a five-game stretch in eight days that includes road games against St. Louis on Thursday, the Detroit Red Wings on Friday, Boston Bruins on Monday, and at home against Minnesota Wild on Nov. 11.

A scoreless first period was highlighted by several big saves. The Devils' best chance came at 3:46 when Michael Ryder took a pass from Patrik Elias in the slot and redirected a shot toward the right corner that was denied by Allen with his glove. The deflected puck landed on the netting at the top of the cage.

"I was pretty patient on [the shot]," Ryder said. "You don't see goalies stack the pads like that too often anymore."

Allen said he kept his eyes on the puck the entire play.

"I knew he was trying to go high glove," Allen said. "I was a little late getting over so I just sort of did a desperation dive and did what I could to make the save. I got a piece of it with my glove."

Tarasenko, who finished with three shots on 27 shifts and 15:27 of ice time, had a chance at 6:50 when he stripped defenseman Damon Severson at the Devils blue line, skated in alone but was denied by Schneider with the right pad.

"We're playing a good team game right now from our goaltending on out," Blues forward Jaden Schwartz said. "We're playing as a team and sticking to our systems. We're getting big performances from our goalies, goal-scorers and role players.

"And with the way [Tarasenko] is shooting the puck, it's to a point where you think he's going to score every game."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mikemorrealeNHL

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