Brian Elliott and the St. Louis Blues shutout the Florida Panthers Friday night 4-0. Elliott made 31 saves in his 2nd start for his 1st shutout of 2013-14 and Chris Stewart finally found the back of the net, scoring on a sharp angle in the 2nd period. Alexander Steen scored his league leading 12th goal of the season and the Blues added tallies from Derek Roy (4) and Alex Pietrangelo (3) in the victory. Jay Bouwmeester had an assist in his return to Florida where he began his NHL career.
The Blues went into Friday night’s game having bushwhacked the Panthers 7-0 in their last meeting, but not taking the Florida team lightly. Elliott was forced to make some high quality saves to keep the Panthers off the scoreboard, but St. Louis never lost command of the game. Roy scored at 15:41 of the 1st period and they never looked back.
Stewart, goal-less dating back to April 23 versus Colorado, one-timed a laser from an impossible angle past Jacob Markstrom after a feed from Barret Jackman. Stewie has been playing more physically this season, trying to stir things up for his team, but he simply needs to start scoring in bunches the way he did last season, until he disappeared mid-March. Yes, the Blues are winning, but their top line has shouldered the load almost entirely. Petro tipped a puck in on the power play later in the 2nd as St. Louis special teams continue to excel. They lead the NHL in power-play% at 27.9 and while their penalty killing is middle-of-the-road right now, they limited the Panthers to one shot and no goals in two chances Friday.
Steener scored his league-leading goal midway through the 2nd to cap all scoring. It gave the top line 4 points on the night and the Blues went into lockdown defensive mode from there. St. Louis was out-shot 10-5 in the 3rd and 31-23 for the game but made it look relatively easy, controlling the puck and clearing their zone when necessary. There was no scoring in the 3rd nor were there any penalties called, and the game ended relatively quickly. It was nice to see the Blues dominate a team they should beat while not expending much energy as they continue their Sunshine State tour with a stop in Tampa tonight to face-off against the Lightning.
Tampa is 7-3 and boasts a top goal scorer of its own in forward Steven Stamkos, tied for 2nd behind Steen with 10 goals. St. Louis native Ben Bishop likely will not play against his hometown team as he played last night, a 31 save shutout of his own against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Blues will probably face backup Anders Lindback. Jaroslav Halak will start in net for St. Louis.
GO BLUES! LONG LIVE THE NOTE!