A three-day layoff following the All-Star break definitely showed early in the first period the Blues had left their skating blades behind them.
The Montreal Canadiens didn't and gave the Blues a good dose of offensive zone time, quality scoring chances and signs of a desperate team searching for success.
But the Blues have their version of an elixir, one that can stop anything in sight.
Goalie Carter Hutton picked up where he left off before the All-Star break; he stopped 33 shots and when the Blues got their skating legs going, they got goals from Ivan Barbashev, Patrik Berglund and Alexander Steen in a 3-1 victory Tuesday before 18,149 at Scottrade Center.
The Blues (31-18-3), who have won three in a row and five of their past six, have beaten the Canadiens (20-24-6) five straight times.
Hutton has allowed two goals over his past three starts and made 94 saves; he has a .979 save percentage and is showing signs that he doesn't want to vacate the net any time soon.
"It's a product of the team too," Hutton said. "We're playing well. I think I just catch everybody off guard now because I play a few more times a week than I used to. I was playing well once every two weeks. Now it's a big deal.
"I think I'm the same goalie. I'm just playing more to be honest and confident in what I do."
Hutton is 8-1-1 in his past 10 starts out of the past 12 Blues games with a 1.72 goals-against average and .942 save percentage, and Blues coach Mike Yeo is seeing a player not willing to give up his net.
"I think we are," Yeo said. "I think we're seeing it's a mixture of confidence and desire to stay in there. He's doing a great job."
Charles Hudon scored, and Carey Price made 28 saves for the Canadiens (20-24-6), who have lost two straight and four of their past six.
The Canadiens had the early jump on the Blues. They outshot St. Louis 11-0 before the Blues got their first shot on goal with 2:57 remaining in the first period but couldn't crack Hutton.
"He's been playing unbelievable," Berglund said. "Obviously we wish to get him some better starts so he doesn't have to work his ass off, but we need good goaltending to win games and right now, he's bringing it."
Barbashev got to a loose puck outside the Montreal blue line and beat Price with a wrist shot from the top of the right circle at 4:38 of the second period to give St. Louis a 1-0 lead.
"I honestly got a little lucky out there," Barbashev said. "The puck bounced right on my stick on the red line, but I just used the defenseman as a screen. I guess [Price] just didn't see it."
Berglund's power-play goal made it 2-0 on a rebound of Tage Thompson's wrist shot from the right circle at 5:14 of the third period.
It was the Blues' fifth power-play goal the past four games on 12 attempts and their first power-play goal against the Canadiens in 35 attempts dating to Jan. 20, 2010.
"A very easy goal," Berglund said. "[Thompson] made a good play, a good shot. My route just kind of took me right into the slot there. The puck just found my stick."
Steen's empty-net shorthanded goal with 2:17 remaining made it 3-0. Hudon ended Hutton's shutout with 1:07 remaining with a power-play goal.
The power play was a result of a Colton Parayko major penalty for boarding Paul Byron, who went hard head-first into the back boards.
Yeo called for a challenge for goaltender interference, knowing full well he wouldn't win it, but it only cost the Blues a time out if they lost it, which they did, but it was more out of respect to try and get Hutton a possible third shutout in three games.
"It would have been nice. That was part of it," Yeo said. "You're not really going to have another opportunity to use your timeout there, so I figured I might as well try. It was a shot in the dark, let's put it that way."
"The guys were mad," Hutton said. "You come in here and guys were apologizing for it. It's no big deal. If we win 8-7, I don't care as long as we win. At the end of the day that's what it's about. It's about winning hockey games."