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Tarasenko, Blues end Flames' seven-game win streak

by Louie Korac

ST. LOUIS -- Vladimir Tarasenko scored his 21st goal and had three points to help the St. Louis Blues end the Calgary Flames' seven-game winning streak with a 3-2 victory at Scottrade Center on Saturday.

The Blues (20-10-4) extended their winning streak against the Flames (15-15-2) to six games.

St. Louis has outscored Calgary 24-7 the past six games, and the Blues have defeated the Flames seven straight times on home ice, outscoring them 25-9.

The Flames, who got third-period goals from Sean Monahan and Mark Giordano to make the game close, haven't been able to solve the Blues.

"We've just tried to execute our game plan," said Blues goalie Brian Elliott, who made 36 saves for his first win since Oct. 18 and defeated the Flames for the seventh straight time. "They like to run-and-gun a little bit. We're built a different way, so when we grind it down low, they tend to get frustrated and don't get their legs going."

It was the second time in three games Tarasenko had three points.

Colton Parayko scored for the first time in 10 games, Jori Lehtera scored and Alexander Steen had two assists for St. Louis.

"One of the things that's hard with your team is to want to play a grinding game when you don't have to or you feel you don't have to," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We started the right way, we played it, we had a lot of activity. We really had them in trouble, but then all of the sudden, the game starts to be not really physical and it's just a skating game and that's fun to play in and that's the games they win, the fun games are the ones they win."

The Flames, who conclude a four-game road trip at the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday, got two third-period goals and made it a one-goal game with 3:53 to play but couldn't tie the game after Monahan scored early in the third period.

"It's never our plan to sit back," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "We addressed it before the game. We know how our starts have been costing us since a few years now, and tonight it was the same old movie again. Part of this, you have to give them credit. They're using their size. They're using their speed to their advantage. But on our side, I thought that we had some reads that we could have been much better at."

The Blues started fast, scoring twice in a 2:24 span early in the first period.

Tarasenko made it 1-0 when Carl Gunnarsson's shot from the left point deflected off the Flames' TJ Brodie to Tarasenko coming through the crease for an easy tap-in 1:23 into the game.

It was Tarasenko's fifth straight game with a goal, a career-high, and seventh in the past eight games. He has 11 goals in the past 13 games at Scottrade Center.

"It's a pretty good feeling," Tarasenko said about leading the NHL in goals, which he did until Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars scored twice against the Montreal Canadiens later Saturday to take the League lead with 22. "I think it's pushing you to move forward. I think this shows you (that) you can play with these guys and you can score these goals. It’s a team game. My teammates make it for me."

Parayko's sixth goal of the season (his third against the Flames) came off a flip pass from Tarasenko into the slot. Parayko skated around Brodie and lifted a backhand from a sharp angle past Karri Ramo at 3:47 to make it 2-0.

A crucial Ramo save on Lehtera prevented it from becoming 3-0, and the Flames benefited from a no-goal call on Steen, who batted a puck in that would have made it 3-0 with 3:29 remaining in the first but was waved off for a high stick. Video review proved to be inconclusive and the call on the ice stood.

Lehtera's goal with 5:07 to play in the second to made it 3-0. Tarasenko's third point of the game and 14th in 11 games (eight goals, six assists) came when he started the play with an outlet feed to Steen; his cross-ice pass found Lehtera, who scored with a slap shot for his first goal in 13 games.

The Flames outshot the Blues 15-6 in the second but three power plays for the last-ranked unit in the League came up empty. The Blues, who came in No. 2 in the NHL in penalty-killing efficiency, have killed 29 of the past 30 since Nov. 25.

Monahan broke the shutout by scoring four minutes into the third period. He batted the puck into the net and initially, officials waved the goal off for a high stick but reversed their call after consulting one another. Video review was inconclusive and the call on the ice stood and made it 3-1.

Giordano's goal with 3:53 made it a 3-2 game. It came off a rush and a shot from the left circle that caromed past Elliott off defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk's stick. It wasn't enough to at least get the game to overtime.

"The positive is we've won seven in a row before tonight and lost one game," Giordano said. "Now we have an opportunity tomorrow to finish 3-1 on this road trip which is a big road trip for us. We've got to come out tomorrow ready to play, better off the hop. It starts with me."

Ramo made 19 saves.

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