The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Breaking News

Local Sports

March 23, 2014

Blues trip up Penguins

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma wants his high-powered team to get used to playing tight-checking playoff hockey before the postseason begins next month.

St. Louis doesn’t need the lure of the playoffs as an excuse to get stingy. The space-eating Blues have been doing it all year, and it showed in a taut 1-0 road win on Sunday.

Frustrating the NHL’s best power play during a pivotal two-man disadvantage at the start of the second period, the Blues continued their mastery of the Eastern Conference by beating the Penguins the way they’ve beaten so many teams this season.

The room to maneuver that Pittsburgh stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin usually enjoy disappeared as St. Louis clogged passing lanes and dictated play defensively.

David Backes deflected a slap shot by Alexander Steen past Marc-Andre Fleury midway through the third period for the game’s only goal and Brian Elliott stopped 33 shots to pick up his fourth shutout of the season as the Blues moved three points clear of Chicago in the race for the best record in the Western Conference.

“When you’re in a tight game like that against a good team, the guys kind of rose up to the challenge and I tried to make a couple saves and get the rebounds out of the zone and they did the rest,” Elliott said.

Fleury made 26 saves for the Penguins but watched Backes’ deflection carom off his glove and into the net just after a penalty against Malkin expired.

“I just saw the guy raise his stick for the shot,” Fleury said. “There were a bunch of people in front. I tried to cover some net but I didn’t see it go in.

St. Louis bounced back from a one-sided loss at Philadelphia on Saturday to improve the league’s best road record to 23-11-3. Pittsburgh’s top-ranked power play went 0-for-5 a day after scoring three times in a win over Tampa Bay.

When Elliott wasn’t getting a pad on the puck, his teammates were. The Blues blocked 25 shots, with the Penguins’ frustration growing at every turn as the Blues improved to 20-5-2 against the Eastern Conference, the best interconference record in the league.

Pittsburgh had a 5-on-3 power play at the beginning of the second period for more than 90 seconds without being able to sneak something by Elliott. Most of the time the Penguins struggled generating a shot as the Blues effectively disrupted Pittsburgh’s rhythm.

“We just kind of cleared lanes and I was able to see the ones they took,” Elliott said. “Whenever guys are moving big guys out of the way, it just helps and you saw guys get in front of shots, block them and clear them down.”

Malkin was called for high-sticking 9:17 into the third and he was barely out of the box and back on the ice when Backes gave St. Louis the lead. The puck cycled to the point and Alexander Steen fired a slap shot that Backes found a way to nick as it sailed by. His 24th goal of the year proved more than enough.

Elliott wobbled several times – including at least two saves where it appeared the puck was creeping to the goal line when the whistle blew – but didn’t collapse. When the clock expired after one last clear up the zone, the game ended with the unusual sight of Malkin trying to mix it up with Alex Pietrangelo.

Bylsma said coming into an important weekend he wanted his team to get used to playing tightly contested, low-scoring games.

Pittsburgh survived one on Saturday, rallying for a 4-3 overtime win against the streaking Lightning that featured 40 minutes of clamp-down hockey and 22 minutes of frantic play.

The Blues, who have positioned themselves into contenders in the West by sealing off the net, would not be lulled into the kind of end-to-end stretches that allow the Penguins to run free.

“We still want to do a better job in these games and win them,” Crosby said. “We have done a pretty good job of being patient when we’ve been in these kinds of games.”

At times, Bylsma wonders if his club was too patient, particularly in the first period.

“The first 20 minutes we backed them off with speed,” he said. “We had some opportunities and needed to have more of a drive and shoot mentality.”

Notes: The Penguins played with seven defensemen instead of six, a move Bylsma said was needed in a game where he knew open ice would be at a premium. ... St. Louis plays in Toronto on Tuesday while the Penguins host Phoenix on Tuesday.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local Sports
  • Pirates 0720 Pirates rally to keep sweep

    Taking the extra base was the key for the Pittsburgh Pirates in completing a three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies.
    Andrew McCutchen hit a tiebreaking single in the seventh inning, Neil Walker followed with a home run and the Pirates overcame a three-run deficit to beat the Rockies 5-3 Sunday.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • LAG 0720 AAABA League playoffs: Laurel Auto Group moves closer to advancing

    Second-seeded Laurel Auto Group fell behind early against No. 3 Berkley Hills Renegades on Sunday afternoon at Roxbury Park. But Laurel’s players didn’t lose their composure.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Urtz, Pope lead AAABA League award votes

    Logan Urtz hadn’t fielded a ground ball as an infielder or swung a bat in a game for a couple seasons.
    But you can’t take the former infielder out of a starting pitcher.

    July 20, 2014

  • Blairsville pegged as team to beat

    As Heritage Conference football coaches assembled at United High School during Wednesday’s media day event at Thomas J. Madill Field, the near-consensus opinion is that Blairsville – under second-year coach Rick Artley – is going to be the team to beat once the season begins on Aug. 29.
    After the Bobcats, the forecasted picture gets a little foggier.

    July 30, 2014

  • tim Baserunning blunder helps Giants end six-game losing streak

    Clint Hurdle says he and a pal often marvel over how there’s always something new to see at a baseball game.
    Too bad for Hurdle. What he watched Wednesday wrecked the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 7-5 loss.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • shazier Rookie linebacker making impression at Steelers camp

    Ryan Shazier grew up the football equivalent of a Rorschach test.
    Some coaches looked at Shazier’s 6-foot-1 frame with plenty of room to grow and saw a defensive end.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Greene’s No. 75 will be retired at Ravens game

    Joe Greene’s No. 75 now belongs to the ages.
    The Pittsburgh Steelers announced Wednesday the team will retire the Hall of Fame defensive end’s number during a game against the Baltimore Ravens on Nov. 2.

    July 30, 2014

  • levon Bell planning to do better

    Le’Veon Bell kept watching the tape over and over, equal parts pleased and puzzled by what he saw.
    There were times during his rookie season when the Pittsburgh Steelers running back would place his hand on an offensive lineman’s back and wait patiently for the hole to open.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Boilers advance in Pony series

    July 29, 2014

  • Martella’s Pharmacy, LAG name AAABA pickup players

    July 28, 2014

AP Video
Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii
Poll

What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

     View Results
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide