Blues Win 3-2 in Florida

(Lynne Sladky/AP Photo)

Dads Trip

On a swing through the Sunshine state, the Blues took their dads along for the annual ‘dads trip’ as they prepared to face the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning this week. A nice gesture considering most of them live in Canada and could probably use a little reprieve from the long winter.

The Blues have climbed to within 3 points of a playoff spot in the Western Conference and have some games in hand on most of the teams they are competing with for a spot. They are 3-2-0 in their last 5 games.

Solid goaltending from rookie Jordan Binnington has come at a good time and things seem to be clicking for this team as they fight to build momentum and make a push for the playoffs.

The Panthers are 9 points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. After losing 7 games in a row in January they are now 4-1-0 in their last five.

They have been active on the trade front, acquiring forwards Derick Brassard and Riley Sheahan from Pittsburgh on Feb. 1st. They are also rumored to be in trade talks with Columbus for goalie Sergei Bobrovsky according to @CompleteHockeyNews on Twitter.

Their goaltending has been less than stellar with veteran Roberto Luongo (3.17 GAA, .895 Sv%) and 30-year old James Reimer (3.06 GAA, .900 Sv%) splitting duties. Reimer will be in between the pipes for this one.

Team Records

  • Blues: 23-22-5
  • Panthers: 21-21-8

Forward Lines

  1. Schenn-O’Reilly-Tarasenko
  2. Schwartz-Bozak-Steen
  3. Sanford-Sundqvist-Maroon
  4. MacEachern-Barbashev-Thomas

Defensive Pairings

  1. Gunnarsson-Pietrangelo
  2. Bouwmeester-Parayko
  3. Dunn-Edmundson

Starting Goaltenders

St. Louis – Jordan Binnington: 6-1-1, 1.86 GAA, .922 Sv%

Florida – James Reimer: 10-8-5, 3.06 GAA, .900 Sv%

Goals Scored: Florida – Henrik Borgrstrom (5), Aleksander Barkov (20); St. Louis – Colton Parayko (9), Ryan O’Reilly (20), Vince Dunn (6)

Three Stars

  1. Vince Dunn
  2. Aleksander Barkov
  3. Henrik Borgstrom

Game Summary

1st Period

St. Louis got away with some sloppy play early on. It took them a little while to get things rolling in this one. Florida nearly scored early in the period when a puck trickled past Jordan Binnington. A mad scramble ensued with Parayko clearing the puck as it lay on the goal line.

Close call as Parayko finds the puck and clears it just before it crossed the goal line.

Florida also missed a wide open net moments later when Binnington got crossed up trying to play the puck behind the goal. Those two plays, along with Florida hitting at least 3 posts in the game were some breaks that the Blues weren’t getting earlier in the season. They seem to be getting them now. The harder they work, the luckier they get.

The Blues had some chances in the first. Alex Pietrangelo had a shot deflected by Ryan O’Reilly that hit a post. Vladimir Tarasenko had a scoring chance and Mackenzie MacEachern got a good look, but Florida goalie James Reimer kept the puck out of the net.

A Blues power play late in the period netted nothing and was wiped out by a tripping call on Jaden Schwartz with just 20 seconds remaining in the St. Louis man-advantage.

The Panthers’ power play is lethal this season, finding the net 27% of the time. They sit 2nd in the NHL behind the Blues’ next opponent, the Tampa Bay Lightning. Putting them on the power play had to be a big no-no in Craig Berube‘s game plan and for good reason.

They took the lead at the 18:55 mark of the period when a long shot from the point deflected high in the air. The Blues had trouble finding the puck. Henrik Borgrstrom didn’t. He got a stick on it and swept it around Binnington and Florida led 1-0.

2nd Period

There was no scoring in the 2nd period. The Blues managed to kill off a high-sticking penalty against Oskar Sundqvist midway through the frame, but a cross-checking penalty on Jay Bouwmeester at the 19:58 mark meant the Panthers would be on the power play to start the 3rd.

3rd Period

Florida struck again 30 seconds into the third. The goal was a result of Pietrangelo getting hit in the face with a deflected puck. As he recoiled from the effects of the frozen vulcanized rubber object hitting him, Aleksander Barkov was able to poke home a puck in front of the net where Petro would have otherwise been there to challenge him. Florida led 2-0 early in the third.

The Blues have shown resilience lately and a 2-goal deficit in the last period on the road would certainly test their resolve. Could they mount a comeback?

Colton Parayko decided he would use his stick and his reach on the other end of the ice. The 6’6″ defenseman executed a beautiful wrap-around goal at the 3:05 mark and cut the lead to 2-1.

It took 8 more minutes, but the Blues found a way to tie it up when a lost puck in a pile of bodies lead to Ryan O’Reilly’s 20th goal of the season. Nobody knew where the puck was, but #90 found it and it found its way under Reimer and across the goal line.

This overhead shows the puck leaving O’Reilly’s stick as it finds its way under the stick and pads of Reimer for the tying goal in the 3rd period.

The Blues had outshot their opponents in the previous 16 consecutive games and had been outshot in this one through the first 2 periods, but they put 19 pucks on the net in the final period and held Florida to just 8 shots on goal. One of those 19 shots was the game-winner and it came off the stick of the sophomore defenseman, Vince Dunn.

My Thoughts

A slow start but a blazing finish! This team is finding their stride and marching up the standings.

How in the world does the NHL give the 2nd and 3rd stars of the game to 2 players on the losing team who each scored power-play goals? My 2nd star is Colton Parayko. 3rd star Ryan O’Reilly. Or vice-versa. I don’t care. Either way, they were on the winning team and scored even-strength goals. Give me a break!

Dunn made a couple of bad passes early in the game quarterbacking the power play but certainly redeemed himself with the game-winner. The kid has some offensive skill. Reimer never even saw the puck he shot through the defenseman.

The power-play needs fixed. Put Pat Maroon in front of the net and nail his skates to the ice. He makes a better door than he does a window, as the old saying goes. Let’s get back to that once in a while, eh?

Good to see Robert Thomas back on the ice. Now, let’s get him up there in Alexander Steen’s spot and turn him loose.

February is a tough schedule. Let’s keep it rolling and Let’s go Blues!


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