DETROIT -- The St. Louis Blues appear to be rounding into their form of last season, when they specialized in winning tough, low-scoring games.
Brian Elliott made 28 saves for his 19th career shutout and Chris Porter scored the game's only goal in St. Louis' 1-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday at Joe Louis Arena.
It was the Blues' fourth straight win.
"The way we're back winning these close games, we're back to playing the way we were last year," said St. Louis' Patrik Berglund, who had the first assist on Porter's goal.
The two teams are battling for a playoff spot in the Western Conference with nine games remaining for Detroit and 11 for St. Louis. The Blues (21-14-2, 44 points) jumped into sixth place with the win. The Red Wings fell from seventh to eighth.
"We've just got to keep building on things," Elliott said. "We don't have much time left, so we just want to keep building."
Jimmy Howard stopped 24 shots for Detroit (19-15-5), which had several outstanding chances to tie the score in the third period but were thwarted by Elliott and St. Louis' tenacious defenders.
"It was really tight, felt a little bit like a playoff game almost, not a lot of room out there, didn't feel like there were a lot of chances either way," Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "I thought we had some good opportunities there in the third, but their goalie came up with some good saves."
Elliott held on in the third period to complete the shutout.
"We were kind of playing with tired legs in the third and we knew they would make a push," Porter said. "Els (Elliott) stood on his head and he's the reason we won."
Porter scored with 3:32 left in the second period, his second goal of the season. He poked a shot past a prone Howard during a goal-mouth scramble.
"It was just two guys, Bergy (berglund) and I, going to the net," Porter said. "The rebound popped out and I'm just trying to get it back into the crease and it went in."
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock offered his take on the goal.
"The message in their goal was simply we had the puck," he said. "We went to shoot it in, it hit their guy in the leg and ended up changing direction and in a scrum in front of our net. That's playoff hockey."
Porter was recalled from the Blues' American Hockey league affiliate in Peoria earlier this season.
"Chris Porter is one of our best players now," St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. "He was a minor-league player a month ago and now he's one of our best players. He plays five-on-five and he kills penalties."
Elliott used a shoulder save to stop Gustav Nyquist's breakaway attempt with eight minutes left in the second period.
St. Louis' Alexander Steen hit the goal post behind Howard from the left circle 4:24 into the game. The Blues outshot the Red Wings 11-7 in the first period.
Detroit has made the playoffs 21 consecutive seasons and that streak is in danger of being snapped.
"We all know what's at stake here and we have to do a better job," Kronwall said. "Tonight we didn't do enough."
NOTES: Before the game in a press conference on the ice, the NHL officially announced that the Winter Classic outdoor game between the Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs will be Jan. 1, 2014, at 1 p.m. ET at Michigan Stadium. The game originally was scheduled there for Jan. 1, 2013, but was canceled because of the lockout. It was also made official that -- as originally planned -- a second sheet of ice also will be constructed in downtown Detroit at Comerica Park, where two alumni, American Hockey League, college, junior, high school and youth hockey games will be held in the two weeks leading up to New Year's Day. ... It was the 1,000th game for referee Dan O'Halloran, who lives in Brighton, Mich., about 60 miles west of Detroit. He was recognized before the game. ... It was the 623rd consecutive game for St. Louis defenseman Jay Bouwmeester. It is the NHL's longest current iron man streak.