ST. LOUIS, MO – There are some games you just turn to the hockey gods and go “Was it something we said?”
The St. Louis Blues (36-25-7) and Arizona Coyotes (34-30-5) are deep in the playoff hunt as the Coyotes defeated the Blues 3-1 at Enterprise Center, grabbing 2 big Western Conference points. After a humbling 7-1 loss in Chicago, the Coyotes responded with a big win in St. Louis, jumping over Minnesota to take the second
The Blues set a solid opening pace to the game, creating plenty of offense, and, more importantly, establishing lop-sided puck possession over Arizona. Darcy Kuemper attempted to handle the puck for his team but pitchforked it straight out of play resulting in a delay of game minor, sending St. Louis to the first powerplay. The Blues couldn’t convert, but they didn’t let off the gas, generating chances and blocking just about every shot attempt Arizona had. Brayden Schenn took a weak hooking minor halfway through the first that sent Arizona to the powerplay, where they generated their best chances of the period. Despite the chances, neither team could find the back of the net through the opening 20. The Blues grabbed a dozen shots to Arizona’s five.
The Blues would look to start the second as strong as they did the first, but a costly misplay by Jordan Binnington gave Richard Panik a wide-open net just 65 seconds into the period, giving Arizona a 1-0 lead. The Blues would not be deterred, especially after the “Big Rig” Pat Maroon had seen enough of Ilya Lyubushkin and dropped the gloves. Maroon, in case you were wondering, won rather decisively.
The Blues were revitalized from Maroon’s fight and the game would continue to elevate at a rampant pace, as the next ten minutes would be interrupted only by two icings. However, the Blues only continued to feel the curse of injuries, as four different players headed to the locker room in less than 15 minutes: Edmundson, Schenn, Sundqvist (who returned in the second) and Blais. The remaining Blues staff would press hard at the end of the period, but Kuemper would meet them all the way, stopping all their shots. The Blues went to the locker room outshooting 22-12 but still down a goal. Joel Edmundson would not return to the game with a lower-body injury, but all three other Blues would be on the ice for the third.
Things would only go from bad to worse as the puck bounced on Sundqvist and found its way past Binnington just 23 seconds into the final stanza. Vinnie Hinostroza scored his twelfth of the season with an assist from Brad Richardson to double his teams’ lead 2-0. Despite the deficit, the Blues only pushed harder, continuing to suffocate the Coyotes’ defense while creating more and more puck possession and chances. However, the chances only turned more and more desperate, and the goaltending of Kuemper would continue to foil the Blues. Binnington would turn around his bad misplay earlier in the second and would stop quality chances from Arizona, including an acrobatic series of four saves on Christian Fischer.
The Blues continued to empty the tank every shift; but missed shots, Darcy Kuemper, a stick to Schenn’s eye (which was not called for a penalty) and what almost felt like simple divine intervention kept the ‘Yote’s cage puck-free, until a holding penalty by Arizona would give the Blues a man advantage in the final three minutes. Jaden Schwartz, who had not scored in his last ten, would finally get his team on the board with a powerplay goal for his 300th career point. Schwartz’s goal (7), assisted by O’Reilly and Pietrangelo, would give the Blues life in the final 1:11 to cut the lead in half, 2-1.
The Blues would try throwing everything they had, but the comeback fell short after an intercept by the Coyote’s captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson and a wire shot went almost 200 feet perfectly into the back of the net. The Blues finished the game losing 3-1 but outshooting Arizona 40-22. The Coyotes got a big win to improve to 35-30-5, taking the second wild card spot from the Minnesota Wild. Meanwhile, the Blues fell to 36-26-7, just two points ahead of the Dallas Stars to hold third in the Central.
The lone goal scorer for St. Louis knew the loss was frustrating, but certainly not for lack of trying: “We had a lot of shots,” Jaden Schwartz told Darren Pang after the game. “Their goaltender played great tonight. They’re a desperate team, and it was a hard game all around… Our puck management wasn’t too good, and we let Kuemper see too many shots.”
Despite having 40 shots on net and 70 attempts, head coach Craig Berube knew the placement could have improved: “I don’t think we shot the puck that well tonight, to be honest,” Berube said in his postgame press conference. “We worked hard and did a lot of good things, but we didn’t score enough goals. That’s the bottom line.”
Joel Edmundson’s current condition is unknown; Berube stated he will be evaluated tomorrow.
The Blues are on the road again to face the Ottawa Senators on Thursday at 7:30pm ET, while the Coyotes head back home to host the Anaheim Ducks the same day at 10pm ET. Those broadcasts will be provided by:
STL@OTT – FSMW, KMOX 1120, CFGO 1200
ANA@ARI – PRIT, FSAZ, KLAA 830, KTAR 620
For more local Blues stories, insights, and more, visit Bluesrants.com!