An injury to Jaroslav Halak opened the door for rookie sensation Jake Allen to get another start for the St. Louis Blues, and he responded with a sharp performance against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Allen stopped 26 of the 27 shots he faced on Friday, helping the Blues get an important two points as the Western Conference playoff race heats up in the season’s final month.
Allen improved to 9-3-0 on the season, and should be in line to see more starts than Brian Elliott while Halak is out. After winning eight of his first nine starts, Allen suffered two losses at the end of March and was sent back down to the Peoria Rivermen of the AHL. Elliott went 1-1-0 with a 1.51 goals-against average in a rehab stint with the Rivermen, and has played some of his best hockey of the season since taking over for Halak in an Apr. 1 win over the Minnesota Wild. He turned aside 19 of the 20 shots he faced to help the Blues hold on for a win in that game, then turned in a stellar performance against the Chicago Blackhawks on Apr. 4.
The Blues playoff hopes likely hinge on how their goaltenders perform, and they are somehow still in good shape despite Halak being out. Allen has clearly proven he belongs at the NHL level, and will continue to present a difficult decision when all three netminders are healthy. The additions of Jordan Leopold and Jay Bouwmeester to the Blues’ defense should make it easier for the team to win, regardless of who is in net.