ST. LOUIS -- Let's be perfectly clear here. This was not a payback game.
The St. Louis Blues weren't angry with the New Jersey Devils for last week's 7-1 humiliation at the Prudential Center.
"We don't hold a grudge against them for anything that happened in that game, Blues forward Brenden Morrow said. "It was a lot to do with them but more to do with us. If anything, we were mad at ourselves."
They officially got over it on Tuesday night. Playing in front of 16,099 at Scottrade Center, playing with a more characteristic intensity, the Note removed the six-goal stain from their memory with a 3-0 victory over the same Devils.
The victory improved the team's home mark to 19-5-2 and snapped a two-game losing skid at Scottrade, the team's worst home stretch of the season. Goaltender Jaroslav Halak stopped 23 shots to earn his third consecutive win and improve to 7-1-1 in his last nine starts.
The shutout was the fourth of the season for Halak, his record-extending 20th as a Blue, the 29th of his career. The Blues got goals from Alexander Steen, Morrow and Maxim Lapierre.
The Blues had to overcome an early obstacle when Roman Polak took a high-sticking penalty nine seconds into the game. Thanks to the scrambling of goaltender Jaroslav Halak and his defense, the Blues weathered that storm. Moments later, the team that is 29-1-3 when scoring first got the type of start they prefer.
Jaden Schwartz led a rush into the Devils' end, backed off the defense and slid the puck to Steen. The Blues' leading scorer moved into the slot and fired a wrist shot past netminder Cory Schneider for a 1-0 lead 3:25 into the game.
Schwartz and David Backes got assist on the goal, the 27th of the season for Steen and his 100th as a member of the Blues. Steen has a five-game scoring streak that includes three goals and four assists. The Blues had a late power-play opportunity they were unable to capitalize on, but they departed the first period with a 1-0 lead, which was three goals better off than they were after one period in New Jersey last week, where they trailed 3-1.
The game settled into a tug-of-war texture in the second, with quality chances rare. Chris Stewart, starting the game on the fourth line, generated two chances on one shift midway through.
He came off the left boards with the puck, outmaneuvered a defender moving right, and fired a shot that Schneider barely managed to squeezed under his arm. Seconds later, Stewart busted in again with another hard shot.
With just over four minutes to play, the Blues had a 3-on-1. Vladimir Sobotka moved in, held the puck and then pinged shot off the far post. However, Halak proved to be the key performer. With the help of a late power play, the Devils outshot the Blues 10-5 in the period and carried a 18-14 edge in the chess match going into the third.
Less than two minutes into the final 20, T. J. Oshie went off for hooking and New Jersey pressed the issue. Again, Halak was a failsafe, sprawling to smother Jagr's backhand attempt from in close, continuing to have all the right answers.
Moments later, Schneider worked magic at the other end, somehow keeping Vladimir Tarasenko from scoring all alone in front. But with 10:18 remaining, the Blues got a little help from their fourth line. Morrow went to the net and deflected Jay Bouwmeester's shot past Schneider for a 2-0 lead.
The goal breathing room goal was the eighth for Morrow and just what the Blues needed to put the Devils under thumb. Lapierre added an empty-net goal, his seventh of the season, with 2:08 to play. That came at the same time Roman Polak and Ryane Clowe were engaging in a fight, and there were more scrums in the waning moments.
But in the end, the Blues weren't angry. They've moved on
(c)2014 St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Visit the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at www.stltoday.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services