Ilya Bryzgalov stops 41 shots to lead Phoenix to 2-1 win over Blues

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ST. LOUIS - The Phoenix Coyotes' tenuous playoff hopes rest squarely on the shoulders of goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.

Bryzgalov and the Coyotes beat St. Louis for the fourth time this season and second in less than a week, 2-1 Thursday night to pull within a point of Colorado for the eighth and final playoff spot.

Bryzgalov made 41 saves and Phoenix won at St. Louis for the sixth straight time. It was a much-needed victory for the Coyotes, who lost 1-0 at Chicago on Wednesday and are trying to move up in the Western Conference.

"It was a good victory for us," Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky said. "Obviously we're running out of games. For us to get a win tonight was a big win."

The Blues dropped their fifth straight.

Bryzgalov (24-18-5), claimed off waivers from Anaheim earlier this season, topped the Blues 2-0 last Sunday at home with a 35-save effort.

"Every game is important for us," Bryzgalov said. "We want to stay in the playoff race and you have to get points every game."

St. Louis, which scored just three goals in four games, got some early offence when Ryan Johnson netted his fourth of the season at 15:13 of the first period. That was the extent of what they could generate against Bryzgalov.

"They came in hard," Bryzgalov said. "They shot lots of pucks from everywhere and were very physical."

Blues forward Brad Boyes saw it a little differently.

"He made the saves when he had to," Boyes said. "He's a great goaltender, so if he's going to see them, he's going to make the save."

Phoenix tied it when Ed Jovanovski scored a power-play goal at 17:21. Just 44 seconds later, and still with a man-advantage, Niko Kapanen deflected a shot from Keith Yandle through Manny Legace's pads for his ninth goal.

Gretzky thought Bryzgalov and Legace were both solid.

"He was good," Gretzky said of Bryzgalov. "They had a lot of shots, but I thought their goalie was superb, too."

The first period ended with Phoenix leading 2-1 despite being outshot 16-9.

The second period was much of the same for the Blues. Despite outshooting Phoenix 14-8, they could not beat Bryzgalov.

Legace stopped 26 shots in the loss.

The Blues continued to pressure Bryzgalov in the third, but despite 12 shots they failed to get a puck past him.

"You only score one goal on 42 shots," Blues forward Lee Stempniak said. "You obviously had a good night."

Phoenix has beaten the Blues nine out of the last 10 meetings, including all four this season. It is the first time in Coyotes franchise history they have swept a season series against St. Louis.

St. Louis hasn't beaten the Coyotes since April 3, 2007, at Phoenix.

Notes: Blues forward Dan Hinote was scratched for the second straight game due to a hip injury. ... St. Louis area native Cam Janssen made his Blues and season debut after sitting out with a shoulder injury. He was acquired from New Jersey on Tuesday for D Bryce Salvador. ... St. Louis forward David Perron played after being a healthy scratch six of the previous eight games. The rookie has 11 goals on 47 shots. ... Coyotes C Peter Mueller leads NHL rookies with 19 goals. ... Don King, in town to promote next month's Cory Spinks-Verno Phillips junior middleweight championship fight in St. Louis, attended the game.



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