Dunn, Maroon lead Blues past Penguins
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Four goals in two periods gave the St. Louis Blues a shot of sorely needed confidence.
Now the Blues hope a solid showing against a surging opponent can put them back on track in the battle for a Western Conference playoff spot.
Vince Dunn scored twice and Pat Maroon had a goal and an assist as the Blues defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1 on Saturday.
“I just think we played with more emotion,” Dunn said. “I think it’s a good step forward for us. I think we found our game again.”
Maroon scored his sixth for the Blues, who ended a three-game losing streak, which matched their longest skid of the season. Former Pittsburgh draft pick Oskar Sundqvist scored his 13th goal and Jay Bouwmeester his third for the Blues.
Dunn connected in the first period and added a late power-play goal. Dunn’s 10th goal gave three St. Louis defensemen 10 or more goals in a season for the first time in franchise history.
“That’s a big accomplishment for our D-corps,” Dunn said. “It’s pretty cool. Other than that, I think it’s just a big win for us to move forward on.”
Jordan Binnington made 40 saves for St. Louis. Binnington has 17 wins and five shutouts in his first 22 starts. He also has 10 wins in his first 13 road games with four shutouts. Binnington is one of 11 goaltenders in NHL history to win eight of his first 10 career road starts.
“It’s fun coming into another team’s rink and kind of quieting the crowd,” Binnington said. “It builds character in the group. I don’t like losing. It was nice to be back in the win column.”
Dominik Simon scored his eighth for Pittsburgh as the Blues snapped the Penguins’ three-game winning streak. Pittsburgh previously won six of seven, including a 5-0 shutout Thursday at Buffalo, and earned points in nine of 10 games.
Matt Murray allowed four goals on just 13 shots before he was replaced by Casey DeSmith. DeSmith made 12 saves.
“We knew we were going to play a team that was going to play with a certain level of desperation,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “They lost a couple in a row, they’re fighting for the playoffs, they’re a proud team, and they’re a good team. We knew we would have to bring a level of urgency right from the drop of the puck.”
St. Louis scored just three goals during its three-game slide, which included a shutout Thursday at Ottawa, the worst team in the NHL. The Blues also scored two or fewer goals in nine of their previous 11 games, but they needed only 23 minutes and 13 shots to score four against Pittsburgh. Since an 11-game win streak from Jan. 23-Feb. 19, the Blues have won five of 12 games.
“We had more desperation and urgency in this game,” Blues interim coach Craig Berube said. “I thought we were urgent right away. We need urgency.”
Both teams started the day in third place, Pittsburgh in the Metropolitan Division, and St. Louis in the Central Division. But the Eastern and Western Conference wild cards remain within striking distance; both teams are not assured a playoff spot.
Sundqvist, the Penguins’ third-round pick in 2012, opened the scoring 4:56 in when he converted a one-timer from inside the right circle. Dunn gave St. Louis a 2-0 lead later in the period when he beat Murray with a glove-side wrist shot from between the circles.
The Blues took a 4-0 lead with goals in the first 2:41 of the second period. Maroon scored 1:31 in from the top of the crease and then set up Bouwmeester’s goal, a one-timer from between the circles just 1:10 later.
Binnington stopped Penguins captain Sidney Crosby on a second-period breakaway, and Phil Kessel missed the net while in alone in the third.
Pittsburgh’s power play was 5 of 8 the previous two games, and the Penguins also scored four power-play goals when the teams met in St. Louis on Dec. 29. But Pittsburgh went 0 for 4 with the man advantage Saturday.
Two of those key penalty kills came in the first 10 minutes of the game.
“We had a lot of emotion and I think that’s important at this time of year,” Binnington said. “We had a good start and we just played a complete game.”
NOTES: The Blues have earned points in seven straight games in Pittsburgh. They have won eight of their last 11 in Pittsburgh. ... The Penguins honored Evgeni Malkin for reaching 1,000 career points on Tuesday against Washington. ... St. Louis activated David Perron from injured reserve after he missed 24 games with an upper-body injury. The Blues sent Jordan Kyrou to the club’s American Hockey League affiliate in San Antonio. ... Penguins D Kris Letang (upper body) missed his 10th game, and F Bryan Rust (lower body) his ninth. Both are day to day and took contact during practice on Friday.
Blues: close a three-game road trip at Buffalo on Sunday.
Penguins: host Philadelphia on Sunday.