BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — David Backes and the St. Louis Blues have goalie Jake Allen to thank for extending their point streak to a franchise-best 13 straight games.
Though the Blues were far from perfect, Allen was unbeatable in stopping 23 shots in a 3-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night.
“We’re not going to put a bow on it and send it to anybody. But we’re going to take the two points,” Backes said. “We had phenomenal goaltending once again that kept us in the game long enough for where we were able to capitalize on a few chances.”
Dmitrij Jaskin scored on a wraparound late in the second period, and Vladimir Tarasenko tapped in Backes’ pass in the third period for St. Louis, which improved its run to 12-0-1. Jaden Schwartz added an empty-netter as the Blues won their seventh straight.
Allen did the grunt work in preserving the shutout, his third this season and fourth of his career.
First, he got his left pad out to stop former Blues teammate Chris Stewart on a breakaway with 7:32 left in the second period. Stewart was foiled again on a one-timer 3:45 into the third period. Some three minutes later, Allen stopped Brian Flynn on two chances during a short-handed breakaway.
“I was just trying to wait him out as long as I could and got a stick on it,” Allen said of Flynn’s chances. “We’ve had our moments where we’ve not been at our best. But that’s where other guys step up and fill a role.”
Allen carried the load against the Sabres, as St. Louis (34-13-4) won its seventh straight and moved into a tie with Nashville atop the Central Division standings.
St. Louis’ 13-game point streak is the NHL’s longest since the Boston Bruins went 15-0-1 last March, according to STATS.
With the NHL’s worst record, the Sabres (15-34-3) understood the missed opportunities were what cost them against one of the NHL’s elite.
“We’ve got to dig deep to get those,” forward Tyler Ennis said. “A lot of shoulda, coulda, woulda, but it wasn’t enough.”
The Sabres were shut out for the ninth time this season — one short of matching a franchise high. And they failed to build off the momentum of a 3-2 win at Montreal on Tuesday, when Buffalo snapped a team-worst 14-game skid.
“We have to play for a full 60 (minutes) if we want to have success,” added defenseman Tyler Myers. “We shot ourselves in the foot tonight.”
The only goal the Blues needed came off a faceoff to the left of the Sabres’ net.
Patrik Berglund won the draw, and teammate Ty Rattie pushed the puck back to the blue line where defenseman Chris Butler’s slap shot sailed wide of the left post. Jaskin pounced on the puck and immediately came out the other end to wrap it around the post and in off of goalie Jhonas Enroth’s skate with 1:56 left in the second period.
It was a tough goal to give up for Enroth, who had otherwise been the difference in keeping the game scoreless.
In the first period, Enroth kicked out his left pad to stop Paul Stastny, who was set up alone in the slot. Seven minutes into the second period, Enroth was quick with his glove to stop Backes’ hard, rising snap shot on a partial break up the right side.
Enroth had no chance on Tarasenko’s goal with 5:38 remaining. Backes drove up the left side and flipped a pass over a diving Sabres defender to Tarasenko, who popped it in the open side and score in his third straight game.
NOTES: Blues coach Ken Hitchcock won his 691st career game to move one behind Dick Irvin, who is fourth on the NHL career coaching list. … Blues linemates Alexander Steen (nine goals), Backes (eight) and T.J. Oshie (eight) entered having combined for 25 goals in their past 13. That was one more than the Sabres had scored in previous 15. … Buffalo has dropped six straight at home, dating to a 4-3 shootout win over the New York Islanders on Dec. 27.
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