The defending Stanley Cup Champs rolled into St. Louis Thursday night looking to bounce back from a 6-3 loss in Nashville on Monday. The Caps lead the Metropolitan Division in the East and were 9-2-0 in their last 11 games despite the loss to the Predators.
St. Louis lost Monday night to the visiting New York Rangers and were 6-5-1 in their last 12 games. This game would be the 4th of a 5 game homestand for the Blues who needed to find a way to crack a good goaltender. They only managed 1 goal against Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray and got 1 past Henrik Lundqvist. Everybody in North America knew they would have to score more than 1 to beat the high-powered offense of the Capitals.
- Blues: 15-18-4
- Capitals: 24-11-3
St. Louis – Jake Allen: (13-12-4, 3.07 GAA, .900 SV%)
Washington – Braden Holtby: (15-9-2, 2.84 GAA, .912 SV%)
Goals Scored: Robert Thomas (4), Colton Parayko (8), Oskar Sundqvist (7), Alex Pietrangelo (5), Tyler Bozak (6)
- Alex Pietrangelo
- Jaden Schwartz
- Robert Bortuzzo
The start of this one had an eerily similar feeling to the Pittsburgh game when Brayden Schenn was called for tripping at the 46-second mark. It looked like a bad call as Schenn had his stick on the ice when Nicklas Backstrom stepped on it and fell behind the goal.
Washington is lethal on the power-play and it was certainly on the pre-game whiteboard to not allow them to have the man advantage. None the less, the Capitals got the call.
Jake Allen made a big stop during the kill and the team held Washington to just one shot on goal. This Blues fan let out a big sigh of relief.
Moments later Robert Thomas got his 4th goal when he got in front of the net and tipped in a shot by Robert Bortuzzo from the point. The Blues led 1-0 at the 4-minute mark of the period.
St. Louis got a power play of their own when Tyler Bozak was snagged with a high stick by Brooks Orpik at the 6:49 mark. The infraction cut Bozak’s cheek so Orpik would serve a 4-minute double minor.
Although the Blues had the man advantage, they couldn’t muster much pressure. Washington even had a couple of short-handed chances that Jake stopped to keep the 1-0 lead.
The Blues got sloppy in their defensive end and turned the puck over. In their disarray, they lost track of someone you just can’t afford to lose track of, Alex Ovechkin. They call him the “Great Eight” for the number on his back, and he made the Blues pay with a wrister that knotted the score 1-1.
St. Louis came out strong in the 2nd with lots of offensive pressure and things really heated up when Robert Bortuzzo took exception to a hit on David Perron by Washington’s Tom Wilson. Bortuzzo may have also been thinking about the hit Wilson put on Sundqvist in the preseason that caused him to miss some time. Whatever his reason, it was good to see someone from the Blues step up and show Wilson that they weren’t going to cower to a bully. Both players got 5-minute majors for fighting.
At the 3-minute mark, Brett Connolly gave the Caps the lead. A mistake by Vince Dunn in the offensive zone led to a 2 on 1 break for the Capitals with Pietrangelo back on defense. The Blues captain slid, trying to stop a cross-ice pass and Connolly just toe-dragged around him. Allen made the save on the initial shot, but the rebound wasn’t cleared and Connolly poked it in to give the Caps a 2-1 lead.
It looked like things would get worse when Perron was called for slashing at the 5:29 mark but the Blues penalty kill did their job and held Washington to just 2 shots on goal.
A Spark of Hope
The thing that gave me hope was when Petro went to the bench after the 2 on 1 break. He was visibly upset and tossed a Gatorade bottle around. He then went out and pushed Wilson around. Both men were sent to the box for roughing and the teams would play 4 on 4.
More penalties led to a St. Louis power play that saw Wilson get not 1 but 2 shorthanded breakaways. Allen stopped them both.
At the 12:23 mark, with St. Louis on a power play Colton Parayko made himself invisible and slipped into an open area where he banged home a shot past Holtby to tie the game 2-2. I’m not sure how a guy 6’6″ and 230 lbs can disappear, but remember it was Star Wars Night at Enterprise Center.
Everyone’s favorite whipping boy last year, Oskar Sundqvist has turned into everyone’s favorite 4th-liner this year. He added to his fan base with his 7th goal of the season when he dove for a rebound and backhanded it into the net for the go-ahead goal at the 16:33 mark.
After being outshot in the first period 13-9, the Blues had come from behind and fought their way back to take a lead into the 3rd period and now led in shots 28-23.
If you were expecting one team to come out blazing in the final period you may have guessed wrong on which team showed up. It wasn’t Washington. They didn’t even get a shot on goal until almost 12 minutes into the period. I think I heard the TV commentators say that the Caps went nearly 23 minutes without a shot on goal from midway through the 2nd to midway through the 3rd. That’s some great team play by the Blues!
Pietrangelo added to his great night with a big slap shot that beat Holtby at the 5:44 mark. His celebration after the goal showed that there was still some spark there. It’s what you want to see from your captain, for sure.
Tyler Bozak got his 6th goal of the year on a breakaway at the 11:08 mark to seal the score at 5-2.
Washington only managed 2 shots on goal in the period as the Blues dominated play. Final shots on goal were 42-25 in favor of the guys in blue.
Everyone looked more inspired tonight. It’s the team that we all love to watch.
In case you were wondering, Vladimir Tarasenko missed the game due to illness.
Berube put out 11 forwards and 7 defensemen to combat the lethal Washington offense. It seemed to work well.
Carl Gunnarsson made his return after missing 20 games with an upper-body injury. What a return it was! He had 12:53 minutes of ice time and was a +4 on the night.
Key stats: St. Louis won 68% of the faceoffs. Washington was 0 for 3 on the power play. Blues were 1 for 4 on the power play. Despite the one giveaway that led to a Washington goal, St. Louis only had 4 giveaways in the game. They had 19 takeaways on the other side of things.
The Blues face the Islanders at home Saturday night before a busy stretch of hockey in the next couple of weeks. They will have 2 back-to-backs and will play 8 games in 13 days. Let’s go Blues!