Blues Up and Down Season Continues to Confound
After beginning the year 3-0-1 the Blues suffered a drop in scoring leading to a 2-3-1 stretch that had fans clamoing for a change. Despite a shuffling of lines the Blues continued to struggle scoring goals this week but managed to collect points in three of four games.
The Blues were in Dallas last Thursday coming off of a 5-0 shellacking from the Rangers and it didn't get any easier in Big D. The game was close heading into the third period after Patrick Eaves, Paul Stastny and John Klingberg each tallied goals in the second. The Stars blew it open early in the third as Stephen Johns and Jason Spezza scored two minutes apart to increase the lead to 4-1.
Alex Pietrangelo pulled the Blues to within two midway through the period but his teammates couldn't muster up anything else after that. Klingberg picked up his second goal of the game on an empty netter and Jordie Benn scored his first goal of the season 17 seconds later, also on an empty net. The loss was the Blues 4th in 5 games dropping their record to 5-4-2.
St. Louis returned home for a three game home stand Saturday night against Columbus, Colorado and Chicago. Jay Bouwmeester was honored before the Columbus game for playing in his 1,000th game against the Rangers and he would cap the night off with his first goal of the season.
Carter Hutton and Curtis McElhinney traded save after save throughout the period and a half before Josh Anderson broke through with about 7 minutes to go in the second. Anderson was in the right place at the right time as Kevin Shattenkirk was pressured behind his net and threw the puck into the middle of the ice. Anderson didn't hesitate to fire the puck right past Hutton.
But on his night of celebration Bouwmeester would not let the Blues lose again. With the Blues upstart fourth line out Bouwmeester would take a pass from Scottie Upshall and skate in wide open on the left side. Jay Bo wound up and let a blast go beating McElhinney to tie the game. Now Jay isn't known for a hard shot but when he lets it go its one of heck of a shot.
If regulation was about Bouwmeester, overtime was about Vladimir Tarasenko. The Russian was scoreless in his last seven games and was pushing all night for a goal collecting three shots and multiple scoring chances before he got a break in OT. Alex Steen was heading off on a line change and was able to get the puck to Vladimir who stutter-stepped a defender and found himself with a wide open look. As good as McElhinney was this night, there aren't many goalies who can stop Tarasenko when he is wide open.
The win was impressive on many levels as Columbus was coming off a 10 goal performance against Montreal and boasted the top power play unit in the league. The Blues held the Blue Jackets to one goal and killed off all 3 penalties.
Less than 24 hours later the Blues were back on the ice to take on the Colorado Avalanche. Despite the short rest the Blues offense seemed to awake from their slumber against the Aves.
Robby Fabbri and Jori Lehtera each notched their first goals of the season less than 4 minutes into the game. Fabbri finished off a two on one with Dmitrij Jaskin while Lehtera slammed home a nice pass from Carl Gunnarsson. After the last few games Blues fans were probably bummed that the two goals were scored so early and that they wouldn't see any more on the night, but the Blues weren't done.
After Matt Duchene cut the lead to 1 the offense broke out for three goals in under five minutes. Jaden Schwartz stole Steen's 200th goal with a slight redirection on the power play to re-establish the two goal lead. The Blues fourth line would extend the lead two minutes later when Ryan Reaves used his unusually soft hands to feather a puck to a wide open Upshall who one timed it past Semyon Varlamov. Finally two minutes after that David Perron threw the puck on the net and it nibbled off of Varlamov's glove for the 5-1 lead.
The five goals were the most the Blues had scored in a game since the 6-4 victory in Calgary and gave the Blues a two game win streak. Jake Allen stopped 22 of Colorado's 23 shots.
The Blues wrapped up the week with a rivalry night game against Chicago. The Hawks were seeking their 7th straight win and trying to put some distance between themselves and the second place Blues. Corey Crawford and Allen were stellar in net turning aside multiple chances in the first period. Early in the second the Hawks would break through on a goal from the Blue killer Marian Hossa. Allen couldn't handle a shot from Gustav Forsling and Hossa pounced on the rebound for the 1-0 lead.
Crawford would continue to deny the Blues left and right including stopping a wide open Tarasenko on the power play midway through the third. Fortunately for the Blues their Captain Alex Pietrangelo would equalize with the clock ticking down. As Lehtera was pushing to the front of the net Petro would slap a shot that eluded Crawford tying the game with 2:11 to go.
But the hockey gods giveth and they taketh away as Pietrangelo was sent to the box late in the third period and with him missing from the penalty kill the Hawks would ultimately take advantage. With 25 seconds gone in overtime and the penalty expiring Artemi Panarin's shot from the left circle found its way past Allen giving the Hawks their 7th straight win.
Once again the Blues couldn't muster more than one goal, an occurance that has happened in 6 of the last 11 games. The 5 goal outburst against Colorado seemed to be just a blip in the system like the 6 goal game against Calgary.
Despite the lack of scoring remaining the Blues did earn 5 of 8 possible points and remain in second place in the Central. The Blues head to Nashville tonight to face the 5th place Predators before heading to Columbus for a rematch against the Blue Jackets Saturday. Finally the Buffalo Sabres visit St. Louis on Tuesday to wrap up the week.