ST. LOUIS -- Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak stood tall in the third period and thwarted the slumping Coyotes on a number of quality scoring chances in a 2-1 St. Louis victory Tuesday night at Scottrade Center.
The Coyotes outshot St. Louis 8-2 in the third period, but Halak stood tall on each occasion, including two saves in the first two minutes, the highlight being a sprawling stick save on Phoenix right wing David Moss at 1:42 to help preserve the victory for the Blues.
"I knew the guy was backdoor," Halak said. "I tried to get there. I didn't know what I was doing. I just tried to put a stick on it, and it hit me and stayed out. I think, for the most part, we did a good job except the last period. We didn't play our game."
Moss said he waited too long to shoot.
"I tried to settle it down and get it up," Moss said. "I probably should have shot it quicker, but he got across and got a block on it."
Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored the lone goal for the Coyotes. He also scored Monday in a 5-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets.
A night after seeing 38 shots, Coyotes goalie Mike Smith stopped 16 shots, but fell to 0-5-2 in his past nine appearances.
"We gave ourselves a chance to win, at least," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "For a hard back-to-back, we were competitive in the game. We did a lot of little things very well and we had opportunities to get points with great chances in the third, and we couldn't capitalize. Usually when you're in a bit of a slump, you've got to earn your way out of it, and we took steps in the right direction."
Radim Vrbata had another great scoring chance for the Coyotes with 4:16 remaining in the game, but his wrister rang off the cross bar from the left slot.
"You have to earn it against him," Vrbata said of Halak. "We didn't play well enough to earn it, I guess, so this is the result. We have to keep working and hopefully it will change."
Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock gave Halak credit for the win.
"This is a game where our goalie saved us," Hitchcock said. "We wanted to play a different game than was out there, and our goalie saved us. He was terrific from the start to the finish. He made three big saves in the third period early, and this was a game probably if you look at it, we didn't deserve to win. We probably deserved a better fate in Vancouver [Friday], a much better fate, and we probably deserved a worse fate [Tuesday]. Hopefully, it equals out, but this is a game that we were looking for an easier game and we didn't get it."
Since being named New Year's Day to the U.S. team for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Blues forward T.J. Oshie has stepped up his game. His second two-goal game since Jan. 2 provided the Blues all the offense they needed to win their fifth in a row on home ice.
The Blues won for the seventh time in nine tries (7-1-1) against the Coyotes, who lost their fourth in a row and sixth in seven games.
Oshie gave the Blues a 1-0 lead when he took an Alex Pietrangelo feed at the top of the right circle and ripped a one-timer past Smith 9:54 into the first period. It was Pietrangelo's ninth point (seven assists) during a six-game point streak.
"I was yelling from about the red line when I got on the ice," Oshie said. "[Pietrangelo] kind of put it on a tee. I didn't even see it go in. I just heard everyone started cheering."
Halak saw little action in the first, stopping four shots, but he made a nice blocker save on Ekman-Larsson with 4:42 left to preserve the Blues' slim lead.
Oshie struck again to give the Blues a 2-0 lead when his shot from the blue line found its way through traffic and past Smith, who was screened on the play by Jaden Schwartz. The power-play goal came at 12:54 of the second period.
But the Coyotes scored late in the period on the power play to get to within 2-1, when Ekman-Larsson's wrister from the right circle got past Halak with 47.9 seconds left. Defenseman Keith Yandle kept the play alive with a terrific stop of an attempted clear on the blue line in front of the Coyotes bench.
Halak regrouped and had to be sharp right off the bat in the third period, making a point-blank stop on Lauri Korpikoski 14 seconds in. Halak outdid himself with 18:18 remaining in the game, taking a sure goal away from Moss with a stick stop while sliding from left to right.
"The third period was more along the lines of what we think we’re capable of," Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. "The results weren’t there and we’re in a results business so we have to make sure we take care of that. But the process was there."
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