(Hannah Foslien/AP Photo)
St. Paul, MN – The Blues wrap up their 3-game road trip this week with a Sunday afternoon matchup with the Minnesota Wild. Just like everyone else in the western conference, the Wild are also competing for a playoff spot. They currently sit in the 2nd wildcard spot while the Blues have taken over 3rd in the Central Division.
Minnesota is coming off a 5-4 overtime loss in New Jersey. They are 3-4-3 in their last 10 games and are playing .500 hockey on their home ice. The Blues are 9-1-0 in their last 10 and are 16-9-3 on the road this season.
Another win would tie a St. Louis franchise record for consecutive wins at 10. The last time a Blues team won 10 in a row was in January 2002 with players like Chris Pronger, Al MacInnis, Pavol Demitra, and Keith Tkachuk.
The Blues have been playing stellar team defense, limiting the opposition’s chances and outshooting the other teams in 22 of their last 23 games. Goaltender Jordan Binnington has posted one of the best starts anyone can remember and combined with Jake Allen to post back-to-back shutouts in the last two games over Arizona (4-0) and Colorado (3-0).
Offensively, the Blues’ top line has been as hot as any in the league. Led by Vladimir Tarasenko, who has scored in 11 straight games and has logged 19 points(10G,9A)in that stretch. Could they win their 10th in a row?
- Blues: 30-22-5, 65 pts, 3rd in Central
- Wild: 27-25-6, 60 pts, 2nd wildcard in West
St Louis – Jordan Binnington: 11-1-1, 1.69 GAA, .931 Sv%
Minnesota – Alex Stalock: 6-5-1, 3.00 GAA, .892 Sv%
Goals Scored: Tarasenko (26), O’Reilly (22), Dunn (8), Schenn (11)
- Ryan O’Reilly 1G,1A
- Vladimir Tarasenko 1G,2A
- Jordan Binnington 31 save shutout
Neither team looked sharp early on. Sloppy play was probably evidence of the number of games the Blues have played lately. But St. Louis did what they needed to do and capitalized on the power play early to jump out to a lead that they would never relinquish.
A high sticking penalty on Jordan Greenway at the 4:49 mark against Oskar Sundqvist put the Blues on the man advantage and it only took 19 seconds before Vladimir Tarasenko made them pay. He sniped his 26th of the season at the 5:08 mark on assists from Ryan O’Reilly and Robert Thomas.
The NBC commentators were talking about how the defense was jumping up into the play on the offensive end and how it was causing problems for the Wild. A hooking penalty on Marcus Foligno against Robert Bortuzzo was likely a result of that tactic and the Blues took advantage again.
This time it was Ryan O’Reilly with his 22nd goal of the season with just 30 seconds left in the first. Tarasenko and Alex Pietrangelo assisted on this one.
St. Louis dominated the period outshooting the Wild 11-5, winning 81% of the faceoffs, and going 2 for 2 on the power play for a 2-0 lead.
There was a scary moment early in the second when Tarasenko crashed into the boards awkwardly. He left the ice under his own power and returned soon thereafter and apparently wasn’t injured. He’s one guy the Blues don’t want to lose right now.
Minnesota finally got some sustained offensive pressure about 5 minutes into the period but Binnington made some good saves to keep the 2 goal lead. The Blues counter-attacked and Robby Fabbri was stopped on the other end on a nice scoring chance.
The Wild got a power play at the 5:11 mark, but the Blues killed it off for their 12th successful kill in the last 13.
Just 16 seconds after the kill Brayden Schenn found Alex Pietrangelo up the ice and the Blues had an odd-man rush. Petro found Vince Dunn in the high slot and he buried his shot to give the Blues a 3-0 lead.
Schenn made it 4-0 on an odd scoring play. While making his move to the net the puck ended up sliding across the goal line under the body of defenseman Nick Seeler.
After outshooting the Wild 25-14 through 2 periods, the Blues circled the wagons and were outshot 17-5 in the third. Minnesota still couldn’t find the net, even with 4 power play opportunities in the period.
Binnington earned his 4th shutout, set a new Blues rookie goalie record with his 8th straight win and improved to 12-1-1 on the year.
- WOW! Who would have thought this team would be playing this kind of hockey and be where they are in the standings a month and a half ago? From last in the league to 3rd in the Central, no losses yet in February, tying a franchise record with 10 straight wins, is all almost unbelievable.
- This team has played well against good teams all season. They stumbled against “weaker” or “struggling” teams. But that has changed. They’ve beaten the good teams and they’re beating the other teams too.
- I’m not sure how long this can last but let’s hope it never ends.
- Congrats to Coach Berube and his coaching staff. Congrats to this team on the winning streak. Congrats to Binnington on the rookie record.
- 3 shutouts in a row! When was the last time the Blues did that? Surely someone can tell us.
- The Blues are now 31-22-5. They face Toronto at home on Tuesday, travel to Dallas Thursday and then have another back-to-back weekend with Boston at home and back to Minnesota on Sunday. They wrap up February with Nashville at home on the 26th. It doesn’t get any easier.
- Let’s go Blues!