Game Report: Blues 3, Penguins 0

By Nicholas Hand

The Blues faced the difficult task of snapping their season-high three-game losing streak against the defending Stanley Cup champions on Tuesday night in Pittsburgh.

Not only did the Blues rise to the challenge, they did it with one of their most complete performances of the season.

Carter Hutton made 34 saves for his second shutout of the season, doing it against a team which had scored a combined 24 goals in the previous four games. Colton Parayko, Ryan Reaves and Scottie Upshall provided the goals for the Blues, who handed the Penguins their first loss in regulation at home since Nov. 21.

It was the sixth shutout of Hutton’s career and second in Pittsburgh. He also shut out the Penguins on Feb. 21, 2015 when he was with Nashville, making 21 saves.

The Blues killed off six Penguins’ power plays, including one in the first period after a roughing minor to Upshall with the help of the Penguins hitting a post.

St. Louis generated momentum after the penalty kill in a period in which both teams directed 13 shots on goal.

The star of the opening period was Parayko, who negated a three-on-two odd man rush and later induced the Blues’ first power play of the night after pinching-in offensively with a forecheck that produced sustained pressure.

Chad Ruhwedel caught Parayko with a high stick at 12:40. On the ensuing power play, the Blues young defenseman blasted a slap shot past Pittsburgh goaltender Matt Murray. Two quick passes by Alex Pietrangelo and David Perron gave Parayko plenty of space to move in on Murray as he fired the slap shot through the five-hole.

The Blues extended the lead to 2-0 in the second period on an unlikely play. Reaves beat Justin Schultz with a burst of speed and created a breakaway.

Reaves crossed the crease on Murray and beat him with a wrist shot going the other way with 4:17 remaining in the period. Kevin Shattenkirk and Robert Bortuzzo assisted on the goal.

The Penguins pushed again early in the third period as the Blues suffered another too many men infraction just 35 seconds in. The goal post served as Hutton’s friend for the second time in the contest as a laser shot by Evgeni Malkin rang iron on the power play.

With just over 6 minutes left in regulation, Hutton had a terrific sequence of saves including another save on Malkin.

St. Louis put the game away less than a minute later on Upshall’s fifth goal of the season at 14:33.A hungry forecheck by Perron behind the net earned him control of the puck and he fed a wide open Upshall who buried a shot past Murray.

Of Note: Jake Allen is expected to return to the Blues lineup on Thursday night in Minnesota but coach Ken Hitchcock said after the game he will consider sticking with Hutton. Pheonix Copley was the Blues backup on Tuesday night… Hutton has gone 5-1-2 in his last eight starts … Vladimir Tarasenko has now gone eight consecutive games without a goal… Tuesday’s performance was Perron’s fifth multi-point game of the season… The Blues reunited defensemen Jay Bouwmeester with Pietrangelo after Bouwmeester returned after missing one game with a lower-body injury. Bortuzzo-Shattenkirk and Joel Edmundson-Parayko rounded out the defensive pairings on Tuesday.

Looking Ahead: The Blues play the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night in St. Paul in their final game before the All-Star break.