The veteran goaltender delivered another strong performance in relief the injured Jake Allen, stopping 37 shots Sunday night to help the Blues end Tampa Bay’s nine-game home winning streak with a 2-1 victory over the Lightning.
Robby Fabbri and Patrik Berglund scored on breakaways for the Blues, who finished a sweep of a quick two-game road trip to Florida. The team has earned points in eight of its last nine road games,– and Elliott is one of the reasons why.
“He’s been good every game. He’s helping us win,” Berglund said. “We’re really confident with him back there in the net.”
Elliott was superb and closing in on his second shutout of the season until Nikita Kucherov scored in the final minute for Tampa Bay, which lost for the third time in four games and had a nine-game home winning streak stopped.
“The guys played awesome” on defence, Elliott said. “(Tampa Bay) really didn’t have many shooting and passing lanes.”
Fabbri scored his 13th goal, beating Ben Bishop with a perfectly-placed shot less than a minute into the second period. Berglund made it 2-0 at 17:41 of the third, scoring unassisted when his shot caromed off Bishop’s pads before glancing off Berglund’s skate into the net. Officials initially ruled no goal, but overturned the decision after a video review determined the Blues’ centre did not intentionally kick the puck.
“I put on the breaks and it bounced and it went in,” Berglund said. “I didn’t have my hopes up because I looked at the ref right away and he kind of obviously didn’t confirm the goal. They reviewed it and they thought it was a good goal, so we’ll take it and move on.”
Lightning coach Jon Cooper saw it differently.
“That was as clear a kick as you can possibly see,” Cooper said. “I thought there was zero chance to be overturned.”
Kucherov scored his team-leading 23rd goal for the Lightning with 52 seconds remaining. Elliott had 15 saves in the third period.
“We had enough chances to score more than one goal, we just didn’t,” Cooper said. “Give them credit. They’re a defensive team, and if they do break down Elliott was there to bail them out. That was it.”
The Blues were outshot 23-14 through two periods, yet led 1-0 after Fabbri skated in alone on Bishop and lifted a shot over the goaltender’s left shoulder, giving the rookie goals in consecutive games and a career-best four-game point streak. Paul Stastny assisted and now has 14 points in 13 career games against the Lightning.
The Blues won the first meeting 2-0 in St. Louis on Oct. 27 and the Lightning looked like they might be blanked again when Elliott stopped Braydon Coburn from point-blank range with 14 minutes left, Kucherov two minutes later and finally Alex Killorn wioth just over nine minutes left.
Nevertheless, the St. Louis goalie improved to 6-2-1 in his career against Tampa Bay, which was trying to try a franchise record of 10 consecutive home wins. Sunday’s victory — two nights after Elliott had 29 saves in a 5-3 win over the Panthers — also gave the Blues a sweep of their quick Florida road swing.
Allen has been out since being injured against Anaheim early last month. He’s practicing with the team again, but there’s no definitive word on when he might be ready to play again.
“From the start of the year, both our goalies didn’t surprise anyone,” Fabbri said. “We knew how good they were. They’ve kept us in games. They’ve won us games.”
NOTES: Bishop finished with 19 saves. … Tyler Johnson and Victor Hedman assisted on Kucherov’s goal. … Elliott has played 15 games and gone 9-3-3 while Allen (lower body) was been sidelined. He’s 5-1-2 on the road. … The Lightning recalled G Andrei Vasilevskiy from Syracuse and reassigned G Kristers Gudlevskis to the AHL club. … Hedman moved past Fredrik Modin into 10th place on Tampa Bay’s games-played list with 446. … The Lightning have given up the first goal in five consecutive games. They are 2-3 over that stretch. … Both teams were 0 for 3 on the power play.