CALGARY, Alberta (AP)—Veteran center Jason Arnott was proud to be wearing the St. Louis wiener hat after Monday’s victory in Calgary.
Arnott scored two power-play goals and the Blues defeated the Flames 3-1 to move into a tie with Detroit atop the Central Division, and within two points of Vancouver for first place overall.
“It’s for the hardest worker or player of the game, which the guys vote for when we get in here,” explained Arnott, who at age 37 is the team’s oldest player. “It’s sure funny looking, but it’s an honor to wear it.”
Arnott gave St. Louis a 2-1 lead with 20 seconds remaining in the first period when he scored on a long slap shot that eluded goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff.
He made it 3-1 by corralling a rebound off Patrick Berglund’s shot, skating through the slot and backhanding it in during the second period.
Arnott has always played well against Calgary, scoring 29 goals in 57 career games against the Flames.
“I don’t know why that is,” he said. “We had huge battles here when I was in Edmonton. Man, it was rough and tough and any time you left this building without an ice pack or a cut or a bruise, you were doing good. They play hard, they never quit, they’ve always been like that, so it’s just good games when you come in here.”
Arnott, who entered the night with one goal in his last 13 games, is up to 15 on the season.
“He’s a guy that’s obviously been through the motions, he’s been in the playoffs, he’s won a cup, he knows what it takes and this time of year, you need guys like that,” said David Backes, who had the other goal for St. Louis.
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock says the wiener hat is indicative of the personality of his team.
“Some of the stuff that they say to each other before we go on the ice, when they introduce the lineup, is right out of `Saturday Night Live,’ ” Hitchcock said. “We try and keep it light and loose until it’s ready to play. With this age group and the young guys that we got, you can’t pile the stress on. We don’t bring it until we absolutely have to.”
The Blues’ camaraderie has translated on the ice. St. Louis has won the first three games of its six-game road trip and is 9-3 in its last dozen games.
“We’ve got great chemistry in here … and we’ve got some key guys out for us right now that are going to help us down the stretch and in the playoffs,” said Arnott.
“We went through a spell here that we had some adversity we’re dealing with and we have to handle it the right way and work ourselves through it,” Flames coach Brent Sutter said.
Calgary recognized Hall of Fame defenseman Al MacInnis before the game, honoring his No. 2 by raising it to the rafters of the Scotiabank Saddledome.
The Flames wrapped up a four-game homestand without a victory and earning only two points—the result of two shootout losses.
“Obviously it was not very good for us here at home,” said Flames captain Jarome Iginla. “We had an opportunity to gain some ground on some teams and get some momentum.”
Backes erased Calgary’s 1-0 lead on a harmless-looking wrist shot, a rare bad goal surrendered by Kiprusoff at 14:13 of the first period.
“We need to put more pucks in. We know that, but we’ve got to start with one game and go from there,” Iginla said. “Nobody in our room has given up or thinking now we’re done.”
Jaroslav Halak won his third straight start for St. Louis, finishing with 20 saves. He is 12-3 in his last 15 decisions.
The Flames generated only 11 shots on goal in a listless opening 40 minutes, drawing the ire of the sell-out crowd of 19,289. The booing started during an anemic Calgary power play late in the second period that failed to generate any good chances. The jeers grew louder as the team headed off the ice after the second, and intensified even more after the final buzzer sounded.
Notes: Calgary held first period leads in each game of its four-game homestand: 1-0, 2-0, 3-0, and 1-0. … Calgary has been outshot in 11 games in row. During those 11 games, Calgary has been outshot by a combined 107 shots. … The Blues improved to 26-2-1 when leading after two periods. … Arnott has 415 career goals, fourth among active players. He is three up on Marian Hossa.