Sidney Crosby batted

This is not Brayden Schenn’s first rodeo with a lot of things this season.It is his second time playing under Craig Berube as an interim coach and the third time his name has been prominent in trade speculation. For Schenn and the St. Louis Blues , those things are related.A bad start to the season cost coach Mike Yeo his job in November and started talk that just about anyone from Schenn to star winger Vladimir Tarasenko to young defenseman Colton Parayko could be dealt away. But over the past two month as interim coach, Berube has turned things around — so much so that the Blues could make a run at the playoffs and keep general manager Doug Armstrong from selling ahead of the Feb. 25 trade deadline.“Guys are playing hard right now and (Berube) obviously commands a lot when it comes to the work ethic side of the game,” Schenn said Monday in Washington. “We’ve had high expectations right from the beginning, we didn’t meet them, then there’s tons of rumors about everyone. That’s kind of how it goes when you’re not winning and you’re not meeting expectations.“Now we’re in a position — closer, anyways — to make a playoff push, and we feel like we can in this locker room. Now it’s up to us to try and save ourselves, each other, from getting traded and staying here together.”Berube has pulled the Blues together by getting them back to basics. They’ve gone 5-2-1 in their past eight games to move within four points of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference and can now think about the postseason.“This is such a good team here, and we’re starting to get back to our game,” leading scorer Ryan O’Reilly said. “We can get into the playoffs. We can make a difference.”After trading for O’Reilly and signing forwards David Perron, Tyler Bozak and Patrick Maroon last summer, the Blues were expected to make the playoffs and contend for the Stanley Cup. Twelve losses in their first 19 games led to the coaching change, and Berube has instilled some badly needed consistency.“He’s one of those guys that wants you to make plays, but he demands a lot,” captain Alex Pietrangelo said. “He wants you to work. And we’re working right now. That’s what we’re doing. That’s how we’re winning hockey games.”Berube Jake Muzzin Jersey , who also was interim coach for Schenn and the Philadelphia Flyers in 2013-14, has helped the Blues win games by changing their mentality to become more of a north-south team. There was never a shortage of talent, but now the direction of the action is straight toward the net with the kind of direct style more suited to the group’s size.“We control the puck in the offensive zone a lot,” Berube said. “We shoot the puck and get to the net. That’s our game.”It helps that the Blues are getting stellar goaltending from rookie Jordan Binnington and veteran starter Jake Allen of late. Binnington is 3-1-0 with a 1.55 goals-against average and .937 save percentage in his first four NHL starts after getting called up at age 25 and being asked to steady the ship.“With a little bit of pressure comes opportunity,” Binnington said. “You try to do your best to feel confident and prepared for the moment, so you just work hard off the ice and on the ice in practice, and when the moment finally comes, hopefully you’re prepared. That’s kind of how I looked at it.”Blues skaters look at their rough start not as a case of subpar goaltending but disastrous play in front of the net. Schenn said it was “ugly” early on, and Pietrangelo said the team has done a better job cutting down on rush chances against, which has made life easier for the goalies.“We’re playing more of a 60-minute hockey game,” said Allen, who has a .910 save percentage this season under Berube (it was .879 under Yeo). “We were finding ways to shoot ourselves in the foot prior to that. We’d play 20 minutes of good hockey, 20 minutes of bad hockey, 20 minutes of mediocre hockey and sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. But right we’re getting goals and we’re hunkering down, but at the same time we’re still finding a way to capitalize on opportunities.”More than anything Jeff Carter Jersey , the Blues need to pile up the points to go from last place in the Central Division at the time of Yeo’s dismissal to the playoffs after missing by one point last season. Berube gets a lot of credit within the locker room for establishing a foundation of success.“He’s just brought some stability to the group,” defenseman Robert Bortuzzo said. “He’s definitely made an emphasis on character and compete. I think that’s something we all needed as a group and something we’re going to need night in and night out.” WASHINGTON (AP) — A dominant first period and a three-goal lead had the Florida Panthers feeling a little too good about cruising toward their first victory of the season.“You feel comfortable, but I think we can’t feel too comfortable,” forward Jonathan Huberdeau said.The Panthers blew that lead and allowed the tying goal with 85 seconds left in regulation before Huberdeau scored the shootout winner to beat the Washington Capitals 6-5 on Friday night and end a four-game season-opening skid.Huberdeau and Vincent Trocheck each had a goal and two assists and scored in the shootout to give Florida a badly-needed boost.“We needed to get into the win column,” Trocheck said. “We definitely needed that win and, hopefully, the floodgates will open now.”Florida has been a team of floodgates this season, scoring and allowing three consecutive goals for the second game in a row. This time, they went from a 1-all tie to up 4-1 on goals by Evgenii Dadonov, Colton Sceviour and Jared McCann and lost it when Washington’s Brett Connolly, Jakub Vrana and Devante Smith-Pelly all beat James Reimer in a span of less than 12 minutes.In a wacky, back-and-forth game that became a battle of backup goaltenders, the Panthers got the one or two saves and the production they needed to get over the hump. Michael Hutchinson stopped 10 of the 11 shots he faced in regulation and overtime and made a couple of more saves in the shootout, and shootout goals by captain Aleksander Barkov, Trocheck and Huberdeau sent them home happy.“It’s a sense of relief, for sure ,” said Huberdeau, who scored a 5-on-3 power-play goal with 50.2 seconds left in the second period that gave Florida a 5-4 lead. “Being so close every game to get a win, now we finally got it, the first one.”The first one could have come in regulation, but Nicklas Backstrom scored a 6-on-4 goal on the power play with backup Pheonix Copley pulled for the extra attacker and 1:25 left in the third. Getting to overtime allowed the defending Stanley Cup champions to salvage a point from a rough, inconsistent effort.“We were like two different teams the first period and then the rest of the game after that,” Capitals center Lars Eller said. “There was a lot of good stuff and some bad stuff we’ve got to correct.”Washington starter Braden Holtby got the hook after allowing four goals on 11 shots in the first period, including Trocheck’s 9:11 in that went in off Eller’s skate. Much like that goal, Holtby was hardly to blame as the victim of some inexplicable turnovers by his teammates.The move to Copley to start the second and some line-shuffling by coach Todd Reirden sparked the Capitals, who beat Reimer four times on 20 shots to send him to the bench. Copley stopped 18 of 19 shots to help the comeback, which was as much a sign of the Panthers’ maddening up-and-down play as anything else.“That snowball effect again — we got rolling and shot ourselves in the foot a little bit,” Florida coach Bob Boughner said. “But we found a way to win tonight. We talked about winning the first game and how good it’s going to feel, get the monkey off our back a little bit. Now I think we can move ahead. It would’ve been tough losing that game.”NOTES: Panthers D Mark Pysyk left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury after taking a hit from Alex Ovechkin and did not return. Boughner said Pysyk was still being evaluated. … F Dmitrij Jaskin returned to the Capitals’ lineup, replacing Nathan Walker.UP NEXTPanthers: Get defenseman Mike Matheson back from his two-game suspension when they return home to face the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.Capitals: Begin a three-game Western Canadian road trip at the Vancouver Canucks on Monday before visiting Edmonton and Calgary.