ST. LOUIS — Backing up Jordan Binnington, Blues goalie Jake Allen knows he needs to make his starts count.
Allen stopped 20 shots and Brayden Schenn had two assists Monday night, leading St. Louis to a 4-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks.
Making his first start in nine days, Allen improved to 8-3-3 this season. He lost his starting job last January to Binnington, who was called up from the American Hockey League and led the Blues to their first Stanley Cup title. He’s been the starter ever since.
“I just try to keep fresh and stay sharp in practice,” Allen said. “It wasn’t really a busy game for me but I tried to handle the puck as much as I could and get out of the net and talk and keep myself in the game. It felt pretty good.”
The Blues won their ninth straight home game, tying the franchise record for one season set in 1991. The run marks the longest home winning streak in the NHL this season. St. Louis has outscored its opponents 36-15 during the streak.
“Night in and night out, we’re playing our game,” coach Craig Berube said. “That’s a good thing, for sure. I think we’re more consistent and sticking to what works.”
Alexander Steen, Tyler Bozak, Jaden Schwartz and Ivan Barbashev scored for the Blues, who have won four in a row after a three-game skid. They are 12-2-1 in their past 15 games.
St. Louis (30-10-7) is tied for first in the NHL standings (67 points) with Washington.
Max Comtois had the lone goal for Anaheim, which has lost four straight and been outscored 15-6 during that span. The Ducks are 3-9-1 in their past 13 games.
“We get discouraged really easily and that’s what comes when you’re struggling,” Ryan Getzlaf said. “It’s been happening in hockey for 200 years. It’s the way it works and you have to stay confident in the system that we’re doing.”
Ducks goalie John Gibson made 30 saves and fell to 13-19-3. He is 1-5-1 in his last seven starts.
The Blues have 17 wins at home this season (17-4-3), most in the NHL. One of their four home losses in regulation came against the Ducks, who won 4-1 in St. Louis on Nov. 16. In fact, the road team won the previous seven meetings between the teams.
But not on this night.
“Playing poorly and on top of that playing the Blues in a tough building, you know you have to be on your A game,” Anaheim’s Adam Henrique said.
Two goals in the second put St. Louis ahead 3-1. The Blues dominated the period, attempting a season-high 22 shots to 10 for Anaheim.
“We just wore them down,” Berube said.
Bozak gave St. Louis a 2-1 lead 2:21 into the second. A shovel pass from Mackenzie MacEachern found Bozak, who beat Gibson for the goal. Robert Thomas stole the puck twice before he passed to MacEachern, setting up the scoring chance.
Schwartz tapped the puck into an open net for a power-play goal at 9:41. From the right circle, Schenn fed Schwartz, who was cutting to the net on the left side for an easy shot.
“I thought it was a period where we had control of the puck a lot, and each line just kept rolling and kind of kept them on their heels,” Schwartz said.
Steen slammed in a slap shot from the left circle at 7:53 of the first. Robert Bortuzzo wound up and shot from the right circle. The puck hit the stick of Anaheim’s Sam Steel and bounced off the pad of Gibson. The puck went to Steen and his shot hit the top of Gibson’s arm as he was trying to get back into position.
After not scoring in 28 games, Steen has three goals in his last three games.
The Ducks tied it at 15:22 when Comtois fired a wrist shot from the top of the slot. The puck went through the legs of a screened Allen to make it 1-all.
Barbashev got the puck from behind the net and scored an unassisted goal at 10:29 of the third period for a 4-1 lead. Gibson left the puck for Hampus Lindholm, who ran into him. Barbashev scooped up the loose puck and poked it in.
The Blues impressed Anaheim coach Dallas Eakins.
“We’re playing the Stanley Cup champions and a team that does trust their system and they rarely stray from it,” Eakins said. “That’s where we have to aspire to get to. We got stung with that penalty (Max Jones for hooking) and the puck in our net — it was like we were in panic mode, and we don’t need to go into panic mode.”
The Blues are 21-0-5 when scoring first. They are the only NHL team without a regulation loss after scoring first this season. … St. Louis is 20-0-5 when leading after two periods. … Blues D Colton Parayko missed his fifth game and is day to day with an upper-body injury. The club said he has been skating with the team and is close to returning. … Ducks RW Jakob Silfverberg missed his third game with an upper-body injury.
Ducks: At the Nashville Predators on Thursday.
Blues: Host the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Warren Mayes, The Associated Press
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