It had been more than nine months since Jake Allen led the Blues onto the ice at Enterprise Center for a game that mattered. Not since Jan. 8, right when the Jordan Binnington phenomenon was starting to take off, had the team’s veteran goalie started a game at home.
After that, his final 12 appearances of the season came on the road, with him posting a 5-3-4 record.
With Binnington having been in goal for the Blues’ 6-3 loss in Montreal last week, coach Craig Berube turned to Allen for the return engagement. And it seemed to be going well until a puck going wide caromed off Allen’s stick and into the net for the goal that started the Canadiens on the way to their 5-2 win Saturday.
Allen stopped seven of eight shots he faced in the first period and made a nice pad save to deny a shorthanded goal.
“I felt pretty solid, to be honest,” he said. “Again, that goal can’t happen, not in a big game . . . any game anymore is huge right now. It’s on me. It hit my stick and somehow hit my shaft and went the other way. Hey, there’s no excuses.”
“He made a lot of good saves,” Berube said. “It is what it is.”
Allen won his only other appearance this season, a 6-4 barnburner in Ottawa that was the first sign of the Blues’ defense softening. In his two games, Allen has a 4.17 goals-against average and an .849 save percentage. With back-to-back games coming up next weekend in Boston and Detroit, Allen is likely to get one of them — most likely against the Red Wings.
His most recent win at home came on Jan. 3, 2019.
The Blues allowed goals on Montreal’s first two power plays and failed to score on their first two power plays, and by that point Montreal was up 3-1. The Blues ended up going 0 for 3 on the power play and three for five while killing penalties.
The Blues have four goals on 22 power-play attempts this season. Seven of their 34 shots on goal Saturday came on the power play, which while not producing goals is at least producing shots.
“We had some good looks, but they didn’t go in,” forward David Perron said. “We had a couple shots from the center of the ice. We’ve got to keep going at it and be a little bit more hungry around the net, probably.”
“We had a lot of good looks,” Berube added. “(Goalie Carey) Price was good, but we could get a little more traffic in front of him. I thought we could have had a couple goals out of them easily, but it didn’t happen.”
With the Blues struggling to find some offense, Berube shook up his lines in the third period, alternating Alexander Steen and Robby Fabbri in Sammy Blais’ spot alongside Ryan O’Reilly and Perron, and putting Blais and Robert Thomas with Tyler Bozak.
On defense, Jay Bouwmeester, who started the game alongside Robert Bortuzzo, was switched to play with Justin Faulk, and Vince Dunn played with Bortuzzo. “Just certain things that I’m seeing,” Berube said.
• Beating the Blues does carry some heft for other teams.
“That’s huge for us,” Montreal forward Jonathan Drouin said. “They’re Stanley Cup champs. They know how to play.”
• Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson sat out the game because of a lower-body injury.