ST. LOUIS – Jaroslav Halak stopped 20 of 21 shots as the Blues beat the Florida Panthers 4-1 Thursday night. Since Ken Hitchcock has taken over, the Blues are 4-0-1.
David Backes started the scoring in the first. After a sloppy pass from Brian Campbell went awry, Backes stepped into the faceoff circle to the right of Florida goaltender Jose Theodore and ripped a shot high to the glove side. Theodore had no chance.
Mike Santorelli responded to the Blues goal with his own 13:07 into the first period. On a Blues giveaway, Santorelli beat Halak low to even the score.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, the Backes goal would not be their only costly mistake. Just 5:48 into the second period, Chris Porter picked up a bouncing puck that the Panthers failed to control, and wristed the puck past Theodore to put the Blues up 2-1.
New Blue Kris Russell netted his second goal in three games. Jamie Langenbrunner fed the puck to a streaking Vladimir Sobotka. Sobotka and Russell entered the Panthers’ zone with a 2 on 1 advantage. Sobotka was given time and space to make a move, and he feathered a perfect pass on the tape of Russell’s stick, which Russell subsequently slid past Theodore.
David Backes added an empty netter, his sixth goal of the season, to seal the Blues’ victory.
The Blues moved to 10-7-1. They take on the Minnesota Wild (11-5-3) Saturday night in Minnesota. This will be the first road game under Hitchcock and it will air at 7 p.m. CST on Fox Sports Midwest.
- Since Ken Hitchcock took over for Davis Payne, the Blues have not allowed a second or third period goal.
- The Blues are 8-0-0 when leading their opponent after two.
- Carlo Colaiacovo left the game with a hamstring injury. Ian Cole will step into the lineup if Colaiacovo misses time.
- Scott Nichol received a five minute major penalty for spearing and was ejected from the game.
- The Blues are without Chris Stewart, who is serving a three game suspension for his hit on Niklas Kronwall in Tuesday night’s game against the Red Wings. Stewart will be eligible to return next Wednesday when the Blues visit the Penguins.
- The Blues are also without Kent Huskins, who underwent successful ankle surgery this week. Huskins is expected to miss six to eight weeks recovering.