NHL

Yeo, Blues hope for encore vs. Penguins

ST. LOUIS -- The first game under coach Mike Yeo could not have been scripted any better for the St. Louis Blues, a 5-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Now the challenge for the team is to play that way again on Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Consistency has been one of the biggest problems for the Blues this season, and a major factor in the firing of Ken Hitchcock. The Blues have won consecutive games once since Dec. 1.

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"It's a good start and something to be pleased about but we have to come back and keep getting better," Yeo said. "Our mindset has to be that we come back to the rink and get better."

Yeo is making changes, but he admits what he wants to do differently than Hitchcock will be a work in progress.

"The way we're trying to approach it is we're trying to be cautious that we don't give them too much," he said after Friday's practice. "At the same time, we want to push them a little bit and test them to see what they can absorb and how quickly they can absorb it and how we can apply it to games."

Prior to Thursday night's win, perhaps the best game the Blues have played in the last month was a 3-0 win over the Penguins on Jan. 24 in Pittsburgh. Carter Hutton was in goal for that game, but Jake Allen is expected to start on Saturday night.

Allen won his first game since Jan. 2 on Thursday night, stopping 26 of 27 Toronto shots.

Playing Friday night in Pittsburgh, the Penguins got two goals from Phil Kessel -- playing in his 800th career game -- to pull out a 3-2 overtime win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Kessel scored the game-winner on a power-play 3:15 into overtime.

The Penguins let a 3-1 lead going to the third period get away, but Kessel's goal kept them a perfect 20-0 this season when leading after two periods.

"I think he's really making a concerted effort to play in all the areas of the game that we're challenging him," coach Mike Sullivan about Kessel. "To see him get rewarded like he did tonight was great. ... He can really shoot the puck and when he gets in those scoring areas he's dangerous. He doesn't need too many opportunities."

Being able to get the win was important for the Penguins after blowing the third-period lead.

"We don't want to give points away like that," said center Nick Bonino. "We do gain one of them, which is nice, which is what we're looking for. But come this stretch here, we're not going to be able to give points to other teams."