Blues continue dominance over Devils
NEWARK, NJ — Much has changed for the better this season for the New Jersey Devils, but one thing that hasn’t is their inability to defeat the St. Louis Blues.
Vladimir Tarasenko and Brayden Schenn had a goal and two assists apiece, Jaden Schwartz scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period and Jake Allen made 21 saves as the Blues beat the Devils for the eighth consecutive time, 3-1 Tuesday night at the Prudential Center.
Allen, who surrendered only Blake Coleman’s first-period goal, is undefeated in six career starts against New Jersey, allowing seven goals total. Schwartz has at least one point in all seven games against the Devils in his career; and Tarasenko has nine points (two goals) in his last three games against New Jersey.
The league-leading Blues (12-3-1) won for the sixth time in their last seven games overall, reaching 12 wins in their first 16 games for the first time in franchise history.
“We had a pretty strong focus on the type game we needed to play coming into the season and I think the guys have been all into that,” explained Blues coach Mike Yeo. “It’s helped us establishing that early, building game by game, so far this season.”
Meanwhile, the Devils (9-4-1), after a fast start, are winless in their last three games, with a pair of regulation losses sandwiching a shootout defeat.
“We talk about wanting to get better as the game goes on, but tonight St. Louis is the team that got better, it wasn’t us,” said Devils goalie Cory Schneider, who turned in a superb 37-save performance.
The Devils, back home following a three-game trip to western Canada, opened the scoring just 3:35 into play when Coleman buried a rebound for his second goal of the season. Brian Boyle, who signed with the Devils as a free agent in July and then was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia during training camp, assisted on the goal, earning his first point in four games with his new team.
“It’s good to contribute and I felt better tonight, though it’s still a long way to go,” said Boyle. “It’s nice to be playing, great to be back, playing in front of this crowd.”
The Devils, though, could not maintain their strong start, and the Blues turned the game decidedly in their favor in a span of a couple of minutes bridging the second and third periods.
First, Tarasenko tied it up with his eighth goal at 18:57 of the second period. His left wing shot changed direction off the leg of a Devils defender, beating Schneider.
Schwartz then converted Schenn’s slick power-play feed for his ninth goal just 32 seconds into the third period to make it 2-1 Blues.
“We wanted to stay with it, keep going and not give them any momentum coming back our way,” said Schwartz.
That’s exactly what the Blues did, dominating play, outshooting the Devils 19-4 in the third period and killing off a pair of New Jersey power plays along the way.
“They’re playing well, and they know how to stay in games and have the high-end skill on those top two lines that can turn the game on a dime like they did tonight,” explained Schneider.
Schenn, who assisted on the first two St. Louis goals and has six assists in his last two games, put the game on ice with an empty-net goal with under a minute to play.
“As a team, we’re off to a really good start this season, but we have to keep building our game because games are only going to get tougher to win as we move on,” said Schenn.
NOTES: Blues C Robby Fabbri underwent successful left knee surgery on Tuesday and is out indefinitely. Fabbri, who also had surgery on the same knee last year, tore his ACL during training camp and did not appear in a single game this season. ... The Blues’ healthy scratches were RW Beau Bennett and D Nate Prosser. ... Devils RW Kyle Palmieri (lower body) missed his sixth consecutive game, though coach John Hynes said he could return to practice as early as Wednesday. ... The Devils made D Damon Severson a healthy scratch for the first time this season. ... LW Marcus Johansson (concussion) and D Dalton Prout were the Devils’ other scratches.