(Photo Las Vegas Review Journal)
Blues Bounce Back
After losing two in a row the Blues bounced back with a decisive 4-1 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights with 3 unanswered goals in the 2nd period.
The Knights drew first blood when William Carrier gathered a loose puck at center ice and got behind the Blues defense for a clean breakaway on Jake Allen. He snuck it through Allen’s legs, just under his right pad for the early lead at the 6:03 mark.
The puck was flipped to center ice from the Vegas defensive zone and was bouncing when Carl Gunnarsson tried to play it. He couldn’t get a stick on it and Carrier capitalized for his 3rd goal of the season and an early 1-0 lead.
Blues fans had to be saying, “Here we go again.” But, 38 seconds later St. Louis had an answer. It was a familiar answer, in that it came in the form of a Ryan O’Reilly goal. His back-hander at the 6:41 mark knotted the score at 1-1.
The goal was set up by Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko. Tarasenko took a hard hit in front of the net after dropping the puck off to O’Reilly. O’Reilly flipped a back-hander up over the shoulder of Vegas goalie, Marc Andre-Fleury and it looked to me like it might have hit the stick handle of Fleury before going in.
The Blues had a life again and it was good to see such a quick bounce-back goal. The period ended all tied at 1 goal apiece. Vegas outshot the Blues 10-7 and the Blues blocked 10 shots. It was a good defensive effort to start the game.
The goaltenders traded big saves in the early going. Fleury with two glove saves, one on Zachary Sanford and another on Tyler Bozak. Allen had an equally impressive save at the other end just moments later.
At the 7:02 mark O’Reilly got his 10th goal of the season when he tipped a shot from Schwartz that got past Fleury. Schwartz and Tarasenko got the assists on the goal. This line seems to be finding some good chemistry in the last few games.
Schenn scored at the 16:13 mark on another deflection. This time it was off the shot of Joel Edmundson. Bozak also picked up an assist on the play. Schenn had missed 4 games prior with an upper-body injury suffered in the game against Minnesota on November 3rd.
Oskar Sundqvist had only scored 2 goals in 70 NHL games prior to this season. But he picked up his 4th of the season in his 9th game played on a gritty play at the 17:12 mark.
The Blues had the Knights backed up with a good fore-check by Sundqvist. His pressure on the puck led to a Vegas turnover. As they tried to clear the puck they got it no further than Vince Dunn at the blue line. He fired a shot on goal that Fleury blocked but the 3-time Stanley Cup champion couldn’t corral the rebound.
Sundqvist went after the puck and skated around a sprawling Fleury as the big Swede took the puck from his forehand to his backhand and back to his forehand and into the net. The goal made the score 4-1 and that would be the final.
There were no goals in the final frame although the Blues had 3 different power play opportunities. They were 0 for 4 on the night and are now 1 for 15 with the man advantage over their last 5 games. At a 25.4% success rate, they are decidedly better than last year and sit 9th in the league, but they need to right the ship moving forward.
- Injuries are starting to pile up. Although Schenn was back tonight, Pat Maroon returned to St. Louis to be evaluated after the Chicago game with an upper-body injury. Alex Steen was also out with an upper-body injury. Carl Gunnarsson left this game with an upper-body injury. Hopefully, our forward depth will keep us going. Samuel Blais was recalled from San Antonio and played in this game.
- Jake Allen has played two very solid games. He has allowed only two goals while facing 52 shots for a .961 save percentage and goals against average of 1.0 in those two games.
- Ryan O’Reilly got his first game-winning goal as a Blue. He leads the team in goals, assists, and points. I sure do like this guy. You can see when he goes to the bench after every shift that he is exhausted. He certainly leaves it all on the ice.
- Vladi Tarasenko is doing what it takes to help this team win. He hasn’t scored as many goals as you’d like to see but has 16 points in 17 games. He’s done a lot of the little things that matter. You can tell he wants to win and he celebrates his teammates’ goals as much as he does his own.
- I didn’t catch the Vegas pre-game but wondered who they chose to represent the Blues in the predictable battle with their Golden Knight. I thought maybe they had him battle a guitar player, but Blues Rants writer James Barry suggested that they may have had the Knight slay and skin a “pantless Bear.” Let’s hope Louie is safe and sound back in St. Louis.
- Saturday night in San Jose against the Sharks. Can the Blues put back-to-back wins together? Let’s hope so. Let’s go Blues!
- O’Reilly (9,10)
- Schenn (4)
- Sundqvist (4)