Halak, Blues smother Rangers
New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Jaroslav Halak came up with 34 saves to atone for a dismal defensive performance by the St. Louis Blues two days prior, with the effort leading the way in a 2-1 triumph over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
Kevin Shattenkirk scored the eventual game-winner on the power play 3:09 into the third period, helping the Blues shake off a 7-1 loss in New Jersey on Tuesday. Alex Steen had the other St. Louis goal, with David Backes assisting on both markers in the victory.
"It really could not have gone any better," said Shattenkirk, who grew up a Rangers fan in nearby New Rochelle, N.Y. "I'm really happy with the way the night went."
A red-hot Rick Nash produced the lone tally for the Rangers, losers of two straight following a 6-1-0 stretch. Henrik Lundqvist finished with 23 saves in the setback.
Nash's 10th goal in 10 games knotted the score at 1-1 with 1:43 to go in the third period, but the star sniper was called for a slash on Shattenkirk to give the Blues a man advantage with three minutes elapsed in the third.
St. Louis needed just nine seconds to convert, as Shattenkirk fired a long one-timer through Lundqvist's legs with Backes setting a screen in front.
"It was a set play," said Shattenkirk of the goal. "Once the puck was dropped back to me I knew that I had the lane to get it to the net. At that point as a defenseman you just have to throw it to the net and hope that something good happens. That's the way our power play works."
The Rangers had an opportunity to even things up when the Blues' Barret Jackman was sent off for a cross check with 7:29 to go, but St. Louis killed off the infraction and Halak came up clean the rest of the way.
"The difference was the power play," Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault remarked. "We had an advantage at the beginning of the third. We didn't get anything off it. Their power play did what they've done very effectively this year. Right off the draw they established a shot. Within a few seconds they take the shot, they score."
St. Louis got 12 saves from Halak and the lone goal of the opening period to take a 1-0 edge into the first intermission. The score came off a giveaway from Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi in his own zone, with Jaden Schwartz collecting the puck and delivering a centering feed that caromed off Steen's skate and handcuffed Lundqvist before crossing the line 8:38 in.
New York finally managed to draw even on its 25th shot of the night, Nash's blast from the left circle off a Derek Stepan drop pass that rocketed past Halak's glove.
Steen sat out the third period after sustaining a lower-body injury during the game ... Nash has lit the lamp six times during a four-game goal-scoring streak ... Lundqvist dropped to 0-4-0 in five career meetings with St. Louis, the only NHL team he has never defeated ... The win was Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock's 106th with the franchise, tying him with Jacques Demers for fifth place on the club's all-time list ... Halak became the first St. Louis netminder since Mike Liut (1979-82) to record 10 road wins in three separate seasons ... The Blues swept the season set, having posted a 5-3 win in St. Louis on Oct. 12, and have won seven of their last eight against the Rangers while improving to 7-0-1 in their past eight visits to MSG ... Forwards Maxim Lapierre and Vladimir Tarasenko both returned to action for the Blues. Lapierre sat out five straight games with an upper-body injury, while Tarasenko missed the last two due to the flu.
01/23 23:38:04 ET