|Date of game: 3/23/2014
Recap: Pittsburgh vs. St. Louis
Pittsburgh, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Brian Elliott stopped all 33 shots he faced and St. Louis turned in a textbook defensive effort in a 1-0 victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon at CONSOL Energy Center.
Elliott's whitewash was the fourth of the season and his 16th with the franchise, tying him with Hall of Fame netminder Glenn Hall for second on the club's all-time list.
"I saw a lot [of shots]. Obviously, the ones I didn't, the guys were blocking and made big sacrifices in front of me," Elliott said. "When you're in a tight game like that against a good team, the guys kind of rose up to the challenge and I tried to make a couple saves and get the rebounds out of the zone and they did the rest."
David Backes recorded the lone score of the contest for the Blues, who recovered from losses in Chicago and Philadelphia to win for the ninth time in 12 March outings.
St. Louis also moved into a tie with idle Boston for the most points in the NHL at 103.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 26 saves for the Penguins, who were blanked on home ice for the first time since a similar result against Colorado on Oct. 21.
"We had the right mentality," noted Pittsburgh defenseman Matt Niskanen. "We knew how they were going to play. We were ready for it. I thought we did a pretty good job of doing what we wanted to. That's how it's going to be in the postseason. Things are going to be tight and I thought we did a pretty good job today except for finding a goal."
Shortly after letting a power-play chance fall by the wayside, the Blues picked up the game's first goal.
Evgeni Malkin was in the box for a high stick, and had exited when Alex Steen fired a rolling puck from the point which sailed through a screen set up by T.J. Oshie in the slot. The puck was tipped by Backes in front and caromed off Fleury's glove before settling into the net at 11:20 of the third period.
"I don't want to give you all of my secrets, but if I was in a skill competition with those two guys I'm going to lose 100 times out of 100," Backes said of besting Sidney Crosby and Malkin.
Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester tripped Malkin and was banished with 4:44 to play, but Fleury needed to make two stops and the Blues formed a wall around Elliott for the duration.
Fleury went to the bench for an extra skater with 1:20 left, but James Neal's shot from the right side with 16.3 seconds left was Pittsburgh's best and last chance.
Despite a scoreless opening 20 minutes, the Penguins enjoyed 1:38 of a 5-on-3 advantage bridging the first and second periods after Oshie and Jaden Schwartz were whistled for infractions 22 seconds apart.
"It would have been nice to get one on the power play," Pens captain Crosby said of his club going 0-for-5 one day after converting 3-of-6 against Tampa Bay. "Obviously that's the big story here. We battled and didn't find a way to score."
St. Louis closed ranks, though, and allowed a few shots on goal which were not quality chances.
The hosts failed to click on two more power plays and the Blues on their lone advantage to maintain the deadlock.
Elliott halted 23 shots and Fleury was good on 18 chances heading to the final period.Game Notes
St. Louis has won four of its last six games in Pittsburgh since January of
2002, and has taken both meetings against the Pens in their new arena ...
Blues forward Derek Roy was scratched with a lower-body injury ... Fleury has
been stuck on 34 wins since blanking the Capitals on March 11 ... St. Louis
upped its record against Eastern Conference foes to 20-5-1 ... Backes recorded
his 156th goal for the Blues, tying him with Brendan Shanahan for ninth on the
club's all-time list.