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Recap: Coyotes , Blues
Date: January 03, 2012 8:00 PM EDT
  

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Jaroslav Halak is back on track.

The St. Louis goalie made a season-high 34 saves, and the Blues snapped a season-worst, three-game skid with a 4-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday night.

The Blues improved to 15-3-2 at home with their seventh win there in eight games. They are tied with Detroit for the most home wins in the NHL.

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Chris Stewart and Jamie Langenbrunner scored first-period goals for St. Louis, which improved to 16-5-5 since Ken Hitchcock replaced fired coach Davis Payne on Nov. 6. T.J. Oshie and Patrik Berglund added goals, and David Perron and Alex Pietrangelo each had a pair of assists for the Blues.

``We weren't playing as five-man units, we kind of got away from what we were doing,' Langenbrunner said. ``Tonight, there were a couple of real good stretches where we took control of the game.'

Halak improved to 5-0-3 in his last eight starts with a 1.45 goals-against average and .945 save percentage. He is 8-7-5 this season, rebounding from a 1-6 start.

``I had a tough start and it affected my confidence,' Halak said. ``But I'm feeling better now. Tonight it was important to play well.'

Halak stopped the final 26 shots he faced.

``He's moving around the net well and he's anticipating well,' Hitchcock said. ``He's played well ever since I got here.'

Mike Smith made 27 saves for Phoenix after missing six games with a groin injury. Radim Vrbata scored his team-leading 19th goal late in the second period for the Coyotes.

Oshie scored a power-play goal when he pounced on the rebound of a shot from the point by Pietrangelo at 4:28 of the second period. His 13th goal made it 3-1, and the Blues improved to 8-0-3 in games in which Oshie scores.

Berglund added St. Louis' seventh empty-net goal of the season with 38 seconds left.

The win helped the Blues erase the memory of a three-game stretch in which they were outscored 8-3. They gave up 97 shots during the skid.

``It's January and this is the time when teams take it to the another level,' Stewart said. ``We did just that.'

Stewart scored his eighth goal of the season from close range to give the Blues a 1-0 lead early in the first period. Langenbrunner made it 2-0 with his third of the season.

Vrbata brought Phoenix close, but Halak stopped all 10 shots he faced in the third period.

``After losing three straight, we had to come up big,' Halak said.

The Coyotes, who will close a four-game road trip Thursday at Los Angeles, fell to 12-9-1 on the road.

Phoenix coach Dave Tippett wasn't pleased with his team's play.

``We need to put more will and commitment into the game,' Tippett said. ``They won a lot more of the one-on-one battles than we did.

``Our execution was slow and poor.'

On the positive side, Smith said he felt comfortable in his return to the lineup.

``It's always nice to get back,' Smith said. ``It's not the outcome we were looking for. We got out-competed. We've got to find ways to win hockey games.'

St. Louis, which beat Phoenix 3-2 on Dec. 23, has won five of seven against the Coyotes. The Blues won their first game of the new year after going 2-8-2 last January.

``We're starting to play with a lot more confidence,' Stewart said. ``It's beginning to show. We just have to keep working and doing the right things.'

NOTES: LW Alex Steen, who also has a Blues' best 13 goals, missed a third game because of concussion-like symptoms. ... The Blues are 17-1-1 when leading after the second period. ... Phoenix is 8-4-1 in its last 11 games in St. Louis. ... Phoenix had killed 20 straight power plays before Oshie's second-period goal. ... The Coyotes snapped a 1-for-14, power-play slump with Vrbata's goal. ... St. Louis is 17-0 when scoring at least three goals. ... Phoenix D Keith Yandle recorded a game-high six shots.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

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The Associated Press
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