Flames lose to Blues, fall out of playoff spot

Brian Elliott made 25 saves for the shutout as the St. Louis Blues defeated the Calgary Flames.

CALGARY — Brian Elliot continued a stretch of outstanding goaltending by the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night.

Elliott made 25 saves to lead St. Louis to a 4-0 win over the Calgary Flame, the Blues’ third shutout in the last four games.

Two of those shutouts have been by Elliott, who has five on the season and more importantly 21 since joining the Blues, moving him ahead of Jaroslav Halak and into first place all-time for St. Louis.

“It’s pretty cool. Looking back right now on my career, I’m not here for that long and I never thought I’d be in St. Louis,” said Elliott, who improves to 24-11-2. “It has a lot to do with how our team plays the past four years. Great attention to detail and guys sacrificing in front of me, blocking shots like you saw tonight.”

The Blues held the territorial edge for much of the first half of the game, but the it remained scoreless until Alex Steen scored the first of his two goals at 11:32 of the second period, ripping a 40-foot wrist shot into the top corner.

“Our goaltending has really been the story for the last 10 days or so. These guys have given us a chance to win every night and it’s a really good sign,” said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock. “Things are amping up. Our checking is back to the level where it was at previously and we’ve got some firepower to score goals. You saw the firepower today. When we’re on top of things, it’s hard to shut down three lines.”

Jori Lehtera and David Backes also scored for St. Louis (45-20-5), which moved into sole possession of first place in the Central Division — one point up on Nashville — with five wins in its last six games.
The Blues are in a three-way tie for first overall with the Anaheim Ducks and the New York Rangers.

“Our goalies have been outstanding when we’ve been giving up chances, especially today,” said Steen. “Second period today our line gives up one or two glorious chances from the middle there, a shot and then the rebound. (Elliott) comes up huge.”

Jonas Hiller had 22 stops to fall to 21-18-4 for Calgary (38-27-5), which tumbled out of a Western Conference playoff spot after Winnipeg beat San Jose earlier Tuesday. The Flames came into the game in third place in the Pacific Division.

“That’s probably the best team, the deepest team that we’ve played lately,” said Flames coach Bob Hartley. “I’d rarely say after a 4-0 loss we played a decent game, but I felt that our guys battled hard.”

Up 1-0 headed to the third period, Lehtera’s goal at 1:18 gave the Blues some breathing room.

“When you’re playing a team as well-coached as them, a big, strong veteran team., you can’t give them that two-goal lead like we did. We paid the price the for it,” said Flames centre Joe Colborne. “They’re a good team. There’s a reason they’re up near the top of the conference like they should be.”

Steen put the game away at 9:38 of the third on another perfect shot, this time putting a slapshot just inside the goal post off a face-off.

After going 13 games without a goal, Steen has three goals in the last two games and 22 on the season.

Notes: Backlund’s eight-game scoring streak was snapped. … Barret Jackman was a healthy scratch for the Blues, missing his first game of the season. That leaves only Alex Pietrangelo and Vladimir Tarasenko, who have appeared in all 70 games. … Calgary defenceman Kris Russell played in his 500th NHL game. … The Flames gave up an empty-net goal for the first time this season. They have scored nine.

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