PITTSBURGH — David Backes deflected a slap shot by Alexander Steen past Marc-Andre Fleury midway through the third period to lift the St. Louis Blues to a 1-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday.
Brian Elliott stopped 33 shots to pick up his fourth shutout of the season as one of the NHL’s best defensive teams shut down Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and company.
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.
Elliott blocked 33 shots and the Blues turned away 25 others, with the Penguins’ frustration growing at every turn. 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 clogged lanes and disrupted Pittsburgh’s rhythm.
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 slapshot that Backes found a way to nick as it sailed by. His 24th goal of the year proved more than enough.
Islanders 2, Blue Jackets 0
UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Evgeni Nabokov made 41 saves in his 58th NHL shutout, and Travis Hamonic scored a coast-to-coast, power-play goal in the second period as the New York Islanders dealt the Blue Jackets’ playoff hopes a severe blow by beating Columbus.
Nabokov got the best of Russian counterpart Sergei Bobrovsky in their third meeting this season and posted his third shutout in this campaign. It was just the Islanders’ second regulation win ever over the Blue Jackets.
Columbus, which has dropped to fifth in the Metropolitan Division, has fallen out of an Eastern Conference playoff position with 11 games left. The Blue Jackets lost their second straight game and for the third time in four. This one was particularly costly as the Islanders are far out of postseason contention.
Devils 3, Maple Leafs 2
NEWARK, N.J. — Rookie defenseman Jon Merrill set up a second-period breakaway goal by Patrik Elias and scored 32 seconds later to lead the New Jersey Devils to a much-needed win over Toronto, sending the struggling Maple Leafs to their fifth straight loss.
Damien Brunner also scored and Cory Schneider had 21 saves as the Devils gave their slim playoff hopes a boost by winning for the second time in six games.
Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel scored for the Maple Leafs, who saw embattled goaltender James Reimer give up three goals on 10 shots in less than 22 minutes of action.
Predators 2, Blackhawks 0
CHICAGO — Pekka Rinne made 29 saves for his first shutout in more than a year to lead the Nashville Predators to a win over the Chicago Blackhawks.
Mike Fisher and Gabriel Bourque scored for Nashville, which won its second straight and improved to 3-1 against Chicago this season.