Steen returns, rookie Allen posts first shutout for BluesBy Steve Oberbey, The Sports Xchange | The SportsXchange – Fri, Mar 15, 2013 12:20 AM EDT
ST. LOUIS -- Alex Steen made up for lost time on Thursday night. The St. Louis winger had a goal and two assists in his return to the lineup and rookie Jake Allen made 28 stops for his first career shutout as the Blues rolled to a 3-0 win over the Phoenix Coyotes before 17,852 at the Scottrade Center. St. Louis, which has won four of its last five, beat Phoenix for the second time in seven days, including a 6-3 win in Phoenix on March 7. The Blues have won five of the last six against their Western Conference rivals. The Coyotes, who were looking to win three in a row for the first time this season, have lost three of the last five. Red-hot Chris Stewart scored twice and added an assist for the Blues, who won back-to-back games at home in regulation for the first time since Jan. 24-26. Steen missed the previous eight games with an upper-body injury he suffered on Feb. 23. He hated his time on injured reserve, pacing like a caged lion while trying to get healthy. "It was really hard sitting on the sideline watching," he said. "I'm not the type of guy that has an easy time when I'm out. It's not in my character to just sit around." Steen, 29, returned with a vengeance and made an immediate impact. The 29-year-old scored his fifth goal of the season on a drive from the high slot at 4:05 of the third period to give St. Louis a 2-0 lead. He also assisted on the other two goals, giving him his third three-point game of the season. "He was competing at a high level," St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. "He wanted to be on the ice." Steen logged 19:12, a little more than Hitchcock intended. But Steen insisted on taking a regular shift with front-liners Stewart and David Backes. "A lot of credit goes to my two linemates," Steen said. "I tried keeping it simple, but those two guys carried me tonight." Stewart got the ball rolling with his 12th goal of the season early in the second period for a 1-0 lead. Stewart, who lit up the Coyotes with a goal and three assists in the win at Phoenix a week ago, has six goals and six assists in his past six games. Allen improved to 7-1 with his second successive strong effort. He made 39 saves in a 4-2 win over San Jose on Tuesday night and has won his last four starts. The 22-year-old, who has started four of the last five, has temporarily wrestled the top spot from goalie Jaroslav Halak. "It's been sort of a whirlwind last month," Allen said. "I'm still taking it in stride. I'm really pleased with the way I've played. You enjoy the stuff and enjoy the win, but once you come back to the rink tomorrow, it's back to work again." Allen, who lowered his goals-against-average to 2.33 and save percentage to .915, saved the puck from his shutout. He plans on presenting it to his father, Kurt. Hitchcock was pleased with Allen's performance and also praised the defense for blocking 18 shots. Barret Jackman and Alex Pietrangelo had five blocks each. Stewart added an insurance goal at 14:31 of the third period on a nifty pass from Steen. "I'm not necessarily worried about the points," Stewart said. "But I feel like I'm generating a lot of offense. I'm getting a lot of opportunities on the rush." Phoenix goalie Mike Smith made 27 saves but fell to 11-8-2. The Coyotes were outshot 16-8 in the first period and never got into the flow of their offense. "In reality, we didn't play well enough to win," Smith said. "We just weren't ready to play from the drop of the puck." Allen stopped Antoine Vermette from close range in the first period. He also thwarted Oliver Ekman-Larsson in the second period. Ekman-Larsson and Lauri Korpikoski had four shots on goal each. "We had a couple opportunities, but as the game worn on we couldn't find anything around their net," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "They got the lead and they held that lead well." The Blues conclude a three-game homestand on Saturday against Anaheim. NOTES: The Coyotes began a season-long four-game road swing Thursday. They will play seven of their next nine on the road. ... Phoenix defenseman David Schlemko returned after missing 16 games with a shoulder injury suffered Feb. 4. He picked up a boarding penalty just 2:20 in the game. ... St. Louis winger T.J. Oshie did not play. He is listed as day to day with a rib injury. ... The Blues scored a season-high six even-strength goals in the win at Phoenix on March 7. .... Shane Doan has 327 career goals, second most in Coyotes history behind Dale Hawerchuk (379). ... St. Louis outshot Phoenix 13-1 in the game's first 11:01.
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