Flames can't solve Conklin, scoring woes
Blues goalie posts 3rd shutout of season to extend Calgary losing streak
It doesn't rank as the highlight of their season but at least the St. Louis Blues and their fans — unlike their Calgary counterparts — have something to get excited about.
They managed to protect a third-period lead — a problem of late and under former coach Andy Murray — while dealing the hometown Flames a seventh consecutive loss, 2-0 on Monday night.
St. Louis coughed up a 3-0 advantage in the final 20 minutes of regulation to Anaheim on Saturday night and lost 4-3 in a shootout to drop their NHL-worst winning percentage to .652 when leading after two periods.
Murray was fired on Jan. 2 in part because of the team's third-period collapses, but the Blues have shown steady improvement in many areas with Davis Payne behind the bench.
The Flames, meanwhile, have been consistently poor around the net. They have scored 15 goals in their last 10 starts (1-8-1) and been outscored 26-9 during the losing streak.
"First and foremost, it's disappointing to lose the game, but I'm not going to stand here and be negative because everyone else in the world [is]," said Flames head coach Brent Sutter.
St. Louis goaltender Ty Conklin was Calgary's nemesis on this night, making several excellent saves and 34 overall for his third shutout of the season and 13th in an NHL uniform.
"He did a phenomenal job for us," said Payne. "You win hockey games on the road, you win close games, you win in situations like that when your goaltender performs like that."
Conklin was especially strong in the third period, which was dominated by the Flames on the shot clock — 15-8 and 7-0 in the first seven minutes — but not the scoreboard (1-0).
He denied one Calgary forward twice in the crease area in the opening two minutes and René Bourque on a tip attempt.
Conklin also received some support from his defencemen, especially Erik Johnson, who stuck out his stick while lying on his stomach to block a Brandon Prust pass to Bourque on a two-on-rush later in the period.
"We're not a team that can get by with half the guys playing and half the guys watching," Conklin said. "Guys scored timely goals; guys sacrificing in front of the net, blocking shots, killing penalties; Cam Janssen fighting twice, sticking up for the guys on the team. We had big efforts throughout our lineup."
The Flames, minus injured forwards Nigel Dawes and David Moss, had numerous scoring chances. Mark Giordano and Bourque missed from in close in the first three minutes of the third period.
In the second, Bourque missed on a wraparound, and Jarome Iginla wristed the puck into Conklin's left arm on a three-on-one, one of the captain's five shots on the night. On a first-period power play, the puck got caught up in Iginla's skates. He then fell to the ice, swiping the puck through the crease as he fell.
"We're obviously in a little bit of a scoring drought," said Iginla. "On a different day, those chances go, and we get a few."
Goalless in 11 games
He has gone 11 games without a goal for the first time since the start of the 1999-2000 season but still leads the team in scoring with 44 points.
Calgary's struggling power play finished 0-for-2 and is 2-for-32 over the last 11 games.
The disenchantment with the home side steadily grew as the game wore on, with sporadic booing when the Flames exited the ice after the game.
Patrik Berglund and David Perron scored for the 23-21-8 Blues, who moved to within four points of the Flames and the Detroit Red Wings, who are tied for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Berglund's seventh goal of the season and fourth game-winner with 78 seconds left in the second period certainly wasn't a work of art. His shot from below the faceoff dot ricocheted off the skates of two Flames and eluded goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, who saw his record slip to 3-6-1 in January.
Perron added his 15th at 11:21 of the third. Andy McDonald drew two Flames towards him then threaded a pass through the slot to Perron on the other side, who whipped a shot past Kiprusoff.
"We weren't playing the way we wanted early in the third, and on the bench, we could hear the coaches talk about putting more pressure on them and getting some battles down in the corner," said Perron. "And we did that, and we ended up scoring a second goal."
At 26-20-6, Calgary embarks on a two-game road trip, starting Wednesday at Dallas in a 6:30 p.m. MT start.
With files from The Canadian Press