The Pittsburgh Penguins and the St. Louis Blues played today in Pittsburgh. The two teams have a lot in common: they were both trying to clinch a playoff spot, they are both leading their divisions, and they have both been beaten recently by the Philadelphia Flyers. The Penguins lost both games of a home and home against the Flyers last weekend, and the Blues lost to the Flyers in Philadelphia on Saturday as the Flyers handed Ryan Miller just his second loss since he joined the Blues in a pre-trade deadline deal. After the loss in Pittsburgh, Miller took the day off as the Blues gave goalie Brian Elliott the start, with the Penguins sending Marc-Andre Fleury between the pipes.
Pittsburgh’s high powered offense versus the Blues’ stone wall of a defense ended in a one 1-0 shut out win for the St. Louis Blues, who became the second team to clinch a playoff spot. The Blues are now tied with the Boston Bruins, the other playoff sure thing, with 103 points. The Penguins looked ready to take control as they started the second period with 1:32 worth of five-on-three power playtime, but failed to get one by Elliott, who stopped all 33 shots the Penguins sent his way. Not only did the Penguins fail to score on the two man advantage, but the Blues kept the Penguins without a shot for over 12 minutes after the power play was over.
After the game, Blues Coach Ken Hitchcock praised his d-men and penalty killers.
“It was huge. There’s so much firepower there. I thought we did a god job of checking all night and obviously guys blocked shots at the right time. I thought between the goalie and the PK, I thought we got in lanes and made them play little bit more static than they wanted to today.”
Winning goalie Elliott also praised his team mates, and took little credit for the win.
“When you’re in a tight game like that against a good team, the guys kind of rose up to the challenge and I tried to make a couple saves and get the rebounds out of the zone and they did the rest.”
Pittsburgh stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin combined for 12 shots and Fleury made 26 saves, allowing only one goal, a David Backes tip-in at 11:20 of the third period. The one goal was enough, as the Blues clamped down and held on to the one goal lead.
The Blues now hold a six-point lead in the Central Division, while the Penguins, who have yet to clinch a playoff spot, do have a 14-point lead in the Metropolitan Division.