ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Playing in one-goal games has become quite
familiar to the St. Louis Blues.
Pavol Demitra and Eric Nickulas scored first-period goals and
Chris Osgood made 21 saves to lead the Blues past the Los Angeles
Kings 2-1 Saturday night. The Blues are 13-6 in one-goal games this
season and 18-6-2-1 overall.
"I'd love to have a blowout, but it's not in the cards right
now," Blues center Doug Weight said. "We have to be great
defensively. We might win three in a row 6-1 or 6-3 or 6-4 if we
just let loose. But we're not going to be 18-6 if we're playing
that type of game."
Osgood said his job is to stop pucks but he wouldn't mind a
little more offense.
"I think we'd like to score a little more and we've been having
some trouble putting teams away after getting leads but we held the
fort," Osgood said. "Hey, it's a tough league. I mean every team
is good and there are no easy nights."
The Blues have not lost to the Kings at home since the 2001-2002
season and are 3-0 against Los Angeles this season. St. Louis is
10-2-1-0 at home, including a 4-1 win over Los Angeles on Dec. 2.
The Blues also beat the Kings 1-0 on Nov. 15 in Los Angeles.
Osgood earned his 289th career victory, which ranks sixth among
active players. Los Angeles backup Cristobal Huet faced 27 shots.
Winning the close games suits St. Louis coach Joel Quenneville,
who said these wins will help his club later in the season.
"I think there's something we can gain from these games,"
Quenneville said. "Not too many games do you get a two-goal lead
and you're in control the whole game. Teams find a way to get back
in the game. Hopefully, this will help us down the road."
"This is great training for us," Weight said. "I don't
necessarily like winning 2-1 or 3-2 or 3-2 in overtime. It takes a
lot out of you. We're practicing the way we're going to have to win
in those big games against great teams late in the year in March,
April, May and June.
"We bend but we don't break. Games are going to be close and
you have to know how to win them."
Demitra scored on a nifty move in front of the net at 5:14 of
the first period. From the left corner, Murray Baron passed to
Demitra, who faked right. Huet went down to block the attempt, but
Demitra went left around him and popped the puck in for his 10th
Nickulas deflected in Chris Pronger's wrist shot from the top of
the left circle at 17:44 for a 2-0 St. Louis lead.
"Our 2-0 leads are always early," Osgood said. "There's
always a lot of hockey left to be played."
There were nine penalties called in the second period. St. Louis
had four power-play chances and the Kings had three, but neither
could take advantage. The lone goal of the period came when Zigmund
Palffy put back a rebound of his own shot from the right circle at
2:46, cutting the Blues lead to 2-1.
The Blues have not given up a power-play goal in eight home
games, killing all 27 attempts. Overall, St. Louis has allowed just
one power-play goal in seven games, killing 26 short-handed
St. Louis improved to 15-1-1 when leading after two periods.
The Blues went 0-for-6 on the power play.
"We played real hard for 40 minutes but we shot ourselves in
the foot in the first period," Los Angeles coach Andy Murray said.
"We didn't have all of our good players playing real hard in the
^Notes@: The Blues signed forward Steve McLaren from Worcester of
the AHL. McLaren is replacing Reed Low, who is on the injured list
with cracked ribs. ... Kings G Milan Hnilicka dressed for his first
game this season. Hnilicka was recalled Friday from Manchester of
the AHL. Starting G Roman Cechmanek is out with a bruised hip
sustained Thursday at Nashville.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Arena: Scottrade Center Location: Saint Louis, Missouri
Referees: Stephane Auger, Tim Peel Linesmen: Thor Nelson, Dan Schachte
Attendance: 17,837 (93.1% full)
Team Stat Comparison
Power Play Goals
Power Play Opportunities
Shots on Goal
Pavol Demitra (10)
Assists: Murray Baron, Keith Tkachuk
Eric Nickulas (5)
Assists: Chris Pronger, Doug Weight
Zigmund Palffy (11)
Assists: Jozef Stumpel, Mattias Norstrom