Conklin makes 42 saves against former team, Blues beat Red Wings

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DETROIT - Ty Conklin took advantage of a rare chance to spell Chris Mason.

As a bonus, he beat his former team. Brad Boyes scored early and Conklin held on late for a shutout, leading the St. Louis Blues to a 1-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night. Conklin made 42 saves against the team that couldn't afford to keep him as a backup.

"It's definitely a little extra motivation," he acknowledged.

The Blues have won three straight road games and five of six. Keith Tkachuk gave Conklin credit for the latest victory.

"Without him, we don't win that game," Tkachuk said.

Conklin had his second shutout this season and won his third straight start, playing for the third time in 14 games.

"He battled hard for us last year, too," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "He won some big games for us - 25 of them to be exact."

Jimmy Howard gave up a goal on the second shot he faced 1:56 into the game and finished with 25 saves, getting the start ahead of slumping Chris Osgood.

"He made some big saves to give our guys an opportunity to come back and did a great job of holding down the fort," said Babcock, who added that Howard would probably play Friday at home against Anaheim.

The Red Wings, who have won just three of nine, were shut out for the third time in five home games.

The two-time defending Western Conference champions are struggling to score goals without some key players they lost in free agency - such as Marian Hossa - and with others out because of injuries.

"I think we're going to get better when we get guys back," captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "But right now, we have to get some wins with the players we have, and we're confident we can get it done.

"I don't think we're getting nervous, but we see the standings every day."

Conklin expects Detroit to be in its usual position by April.

"In my opinion, they're going to make the playoffs," Conklin said. "I know they're not in now, but they'll be in at the end of the season."

The banged-up Red Wings might've taken another hit late in the game, losing forward Dan Cleary with an upper body injury. They're already without a handful of players due to injury, including forwards Johan Franzen, Valtteri Filppula, Jason Williams and defenceman Niklas Kronwall.

"It's very obvious we're not blessed with a whole bunch of natural scorers," Babcock said.

Detroit went scoreless on four power plays over the first two periods, including a two-man advantage that lasted a minute in the second.

"I think that was a big part of the game," St. Louis coach Andy Murray said. "We used (forwards) Jay McClement and B.J. Crombeen for the whole time."

The Red Wings finished 0-for-6 on the power play against a team that has given up only one goal the last 33 times they've been called for a penalty on the road.

"Our penalty killing has been fantastic," Conklin said. "We get in lanes. Guys trust the goalies to make the first save and they clear the rebounds."

The Blues haven't allowed a goal in a 5-on-3 situation this season.

Detroit had an extra skater again early in the third period, but Lidstrom clanged a shot off the post for the second time in the game. Detroit couldn't generate another scoring opportunity.

The Red Wings had another chance to tie it on a power play with five minutes left, but Conklin used his right shoulder to stop the last shot during the advantage.

"That's why you pay goalies," Murray said. "It was good to see him come in here and get a win."

NOTES: Conklin inadvertently hit Detroit F Brad May after clearing the puck, cutting May's face. ... The Blues are missing defenceman Eric Brewer and forward D.J. King because of injuries. ... Detroit's opponents have scored first in 20 of 30 games. ... The Blues opened the season with two wins against Detroit in Sweden, and the Red Wings won in a shootout in St. Louis last month. ... Howard played in only one game last season for the Red Wings as their No. 3 goalie behind Osgood and Conklin. ... St. Louis is 9-0-3 when leading after two periods.


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