St. Louis Blues peaking just in time for playoffs

The St. Louis Blues haven’t allowed a goal since March 16th after recording a 4-0 shutout against the Capitals.

ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Blues haven’t allowed a goal for 240 minutes and 18 seconds.

And that one was an empty-netter.

They’re peaking just in time for the playoffs, tied for tops in the Western Conference with 99 points.

Brian Elliott has three of the four shutouts and gets the start Tuesday against Colorado.

Jake Allen has also been dominant and was in net for Saturday's impressive 4-0 victory at Washington, which has the NHL's best record.

Nobody's getting too caught up in the streak. The Blues are just the fourth team do it in the expansion era that began in 1967-68, and the first since Phoenix posted five straight shutouts from Dec. 31, 2003-Jan. 9, 2004, all with Brian Boucher in goal.

``It's a cherry on top,'' Elliott said. ``It's just a bonus. It's all about the wins right now.''

They're getting healthier, too. Although defencemen Carl Gunnarsson and Jay Bouwmeester remain out, Alexander Steen is expected back from an upper-body injury that has sidelined him 15 games since Feb. 20. He's one of the top two-way forwards in the league and came out of his first full-go practice on Monday with no problems.

``The boys have been playing great, it's been a lot of fun to see,'' Steen said. ``I really liked our game in Washington, how tight we played.''

The Blues have six games left to prepare for the playoffs, where they have struggled with three straight first-round exits. Steen said it wasn't that important to get tuneup work, pointing out that he's been able to skate and ride a bike since getting hurt.

He'll likely centre the top line with captain David Backes and Patrik Berglund.

``It's just a waiting game,'' Steen said. ``My main concern was getting it good enough to play and here we are.''

Coach Ken Hitchcock said Steen has a ``real high level of hockey IQ.''

``As a coach, those are dream players,'' Hitchcock added. ``They're easy to coach, you don't have to spend much time with them.''

The Blues have clicked since getting Jaden Schwartz, Paul Stastny and Berglund back in the lineup from lengthy absences.

Elliott has a 1.95 goals-against average and four shutouts, and Allen is at 2.36 with six shutouts. Both of them missed time, too, and the team survived nicely.

``We've been excited about our team since we got through the mess,'' Hitchcock said. ``It's been excruciating at times, especially in December and January, but we waited it out.''

The Blues have allowed 185 goals in the Western Conference, compensating for a sporadic offence led by Vladimir Tarasenko's 35 goals.

``The guys took care of business in a tough rink against the first-place team in the league, so I think that gave us a little bit of a pump-up and a measuring stick,'' Elliott said. ``We can beat any team if we play our game.''