Boom Goes the Dynamite! Gunnarsson Scores Game Winner

The St. Louis Blues returned to Enterprise Center and hosted the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night. The home game was the only one for the Blues in a 10 game stretch in the weeks surrounding the All-Star break.

Injuries continue to force changes to the lineup. In a surprise announcement Saturday, David Perron was placed on the Injured Reserve list with an upper-body injury. The injury brings to an end the NHL’s longest consecutive-game point streak this season. Perron had recorded points in 13 straight games.

The move allowed Alexander Steen to be re-activated. Steen had missed the past 6 games with a shoulder injury. Tyler Bozak, Robert Thomas, and Zach Sanford are all still unavailable due to injury.

Robby Fabbri and Joel Edmundson were the healthy scratches for the game.

Jordan Binnington was given the net for this one as Jake Allen has struggled at home. Craig Anderson, the 37-year old veteran started for the Senators. It was his first start since December 21.

Team Records

  • Blues: 20-21-5
  • Senators: 19-24-5

Forward Lines

  1. Maroon – O’Reilly – Tarasenko
  2. Schwartz – Schenn – Steen
  3. Blais – Sundqvist – Kyrou
  4. Nolan – Barbashev – MacEachern

Defensive Pairings

  • Gunnarsson – Pietrangelo
  • Bouwmeester – Parayko
  • Dunn – Bortuzzo

Starting Goaltenders

Ottawa – Craig Anderson: 14-13-3, 3.58 GAA, .905 Sv%

St. Louis – Jordan Binnington: 3-0-1, 1.55 GAA, .937 Sv%

Goals Scored:

St. Louis – Tarasenko (16), Dunn (5), Gunnarsson (2)

Ottawa – Paul (1), Paajarvi (5)

Three Stars

  1. Carl Gunnarsson
  2. Ryan O’Reilly
  3. Vladimir Tarasenko

Game Summary

1st Period

Just 2:20 into the game St. Louis failed to clear the puck from their defensive zone. Moments later, Mackenzie MacEachern was caught holding Matt Duchene and Ottawa was on the power play.

The Blues killed off the penalty, but 14 seconds later the puck was in the net behind Binnington. Ottawa’s Nick Paul scored his first goal of the season at the 4:34 mark.

The play started to fall apart when Vince Dunn took an odd angle to the puck in the corner to the left of the Blues net. Dunn swiped at it with his stick but Ottawa’s Mikkel Boedker gained control and skated behind the net.

Dunn, Brayden Schenn, and Robert Bortuzzo all ended up beneath the goal line. Jaden Schwartz was shadowing Paul in the circle to Binnington’s left, but he was a little late. Boedker hits Paul with the pass and Paul’s shot trickles through and into the net. Ottawa 1, St. Louis 0.

The Blues bounced back and tied the game on a snipe shot by Vladimir Tarasenko. The goal was Vladi’s 4th in the last 5 games and would not have happened without the grinding effort of centerman Ryan O’Reilly in the faceoff dot. Watch the replay closely with about 15 seconds left in this video clip. You can see O’Reilly, down on one knee. He kicks the puck to his stick and then passes to Tarasenko. Vladi does the rest, but O’Reilly fought to keep possession.

According to the stat sheet, St. Louis controlled the first period. They led in shots on goal 11-6 and shot attempts 17-8.

2nd Period

This game was part of the Ottawa dad’s trip and one of the dads was none other than Keith Tkachuk. His youngest son, Brady Tkachuk was selected 4th overall in last year’s NHL entry draft and has played well for the Senators in his rookie campaign. He has 11 goals and 12 assists for 23 points in 38 games.

He nearly had a goal against the team he grew up watching. Had it not been for this play by Colton Parayko he would have.

Parayko’s play seemed to spark something as immediately following, the Blues mounted a ton of offensive pressure. Oskar Sundqvist set up Jordan Kyrou for a good chance. MacEachern had a scoring chance. Ivan Barbashev was on the doorstep when a rebound fell at his feet that he couldn’t manage to find. Schenn and Schwartz set each other up for a couple of good looks. But it was Vince Dunn who found the net to put the Blues up 2-1 at the 17:28 mark of the period.

Bortuzzo and Schenn got the assists. Fitting that the three guys who were caught beneath the goal line on Ottawa’s first goal were the three who combined for the go-ahead goal on this one.

Schwartz was tripped with 5 seconds left in the period which put the Blues on the power play to start the 3rd.

3rd Period

What could have been an opportunity to add to the one-goal lead turned out to be a short-handed goal by former Blue, Magnus Paajarvi. It was his 5th goal of the season and 2nd in as many nights. The whole sequence leading up to this goal was a complete disaster by the Blues. The game was tied 2-2.

Undaunted by the power-play debacle the Blues plotted their comeback.

O’Reilly took a shot from close range that fell at the feet of Anderson. The Ottawa goalie tried to cover the puck with his glove as Pat Maroon poked at it. The puck was still loose and Maroon poked it to O’Reilly behind the net. ROR saw Carl Gunnarsson sneaking in from the left point and “Boom-Boom” Gunnarsson, as they call him, snapped it past Anderson.

Anderson pleaded with the referee that he had held the puck and was interfered with. Ottawa challenged, but the goal stood. St. Louis held on for the win.

My Thoughts

Although Vladi didn’t touch the puck on the game-winning goal, his presence contributed to it. The way he’s been shooting the puck teams have to account for him. If you watch the replay of Gunnarsson’s goal you will see how Ottawa players are aware of where he is. They move to him as he moves, switching off but always limiting his space. This allowed Gunnarsson to sneak in and finish the play.

One of our guys, Ray Standefer wrote about Jaden Schwartz in this story: Turn it Around, Jaden Schwartz I’ve been thinking about it. I’m sure there are a lot of things that go into a guy not scoring. Every player goes through slumps. Coach Berube has mentioned ‘confidence’, and that’s certainly a big factor.

Here’s my take: Split up Schenn and Schwartz. I think it’s possible that Brayden is trying too hard to help his little buddy get going. In the past 14 games, Schenn has 2 goals and 2 assists. He’s on track for less than 50 points which would be his lowest point total since the 2014-15 season. Split them up and let Brayden play his game. He’s creative and explosive if he is given the freedom to play the way that he plays. I think splitting them up could get both of them going again.

The Blues travel to LA to face the Kings on Monday afternoon (3 PM Central start) and then Anaheim on Wednesday at 9 PM. The All-Star game means no games for 10 days when the Blues will resume play in Columbus on Feb 2nd, Groundhog Day. Let’s hope Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow and the winter of hockey will continue, rather than an early Spring for the Blues. Let’s Go Blues!


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