Nilsson Saves 35, Senators Shutout Blues, 2-0

(Photo: Justin Tang / The Canadien Press)

Ottawa, ONT – The St. Louis Blues outshot the Ottawa Senators 35-21 but simply could not beat Anders Nilsson. The Senators blocked 18 shots and the Blues missed the net 17 times. Do the math. That’s 70 shot attempts for St. Louis. Ottawa registered just 28 shot attempts in the game, putting 21 on goal. Jake Allen held a .950 SV% saving 19 of 20. A missed assignment by Robby Fabbri left Senators defenseman, Christian Wolanin (4) all alone to capitalize in the 2nd period, and Chris Tierney (9) scored the empty netter to seal the deal.

1st Period

Vince Dunn was called for holding Anthony Duclair just 40 seconds into the game. The Blues penalty kill was a success, allowing Ottawa only 1 shot on goal. Ryan O’Reilly saw a shorthanded chance but shot wide of the net. Oskar Sundqvist rang the post just after the Senators Power Play. Oskar saw another opportunity shortly after when Jaden Schwartz found him in front of the Senators net, but he wouldn’t cash in.

Colton Parayko put a shot on goal only to hit Anders Nilsson square in the stomach. Robert Thomas had a prime scoring opportunity skating in at the right circle. He shot high glove from the dot but was denied. Just after the following faceoff, Alex Steen was called for holding the stick of Ben Harpur at 7:52. I thought Harpur grabbed Steen’s stick for sure. Regardless, the Blues killed this penalty off, not allowing an Ottawa shot on goal.

The Blues then went on their first Power Play at 10:18 as Dylan Demelo went to the box for holding Mackenzie MacEachern. The Blues would also not register a shot on goal during the man-advantage. We saw Nilsson make saves on Zach Sanford, Colton Parayko, and Vince Dunn. Brayden Schenn had a puck deflect up and hit him in the mouth but he was alright. Shortly after, a Michael Del Zotto slap shot would hit maroon in the skate.

Cody Ceci was then penalized for holding Ivan Barbashev. The Blues went on the Power Play again with 33 seconds remaining in the period. The Blues went shotless and 1:27 carried over into the 2nd. St. Louis was leading in shots on goal 13-5. They looked to be strong on the penalty kill, holding Ottawa to 1 shot on 2 power plays (one of which wasn’t deserved in my opinion).

2nd Period

Ottawa went on to kill the penalty. A Ryan O’Reilly slapshot would be the only to reach the Senators goal for the remainder of the man-advantage, and Nilsson had an answer for it. Robert Bortuzzo then deflected a Jay Bouwmeester shot that was also denied. At the other end, Jake Allen made a great save on Max Veronneau who received a feed from Jean-Gabriel Pageau from behind his net.

Tyler Bozak chose the drop pass when I thought he should have taken the shot. Jaden Schwartz had no choice but to take the shot with his backhand and Nilsson made an easy save. Zach Sanford then put himself in scoring position, but the puck came to him awkwardly. It looked to bounce off the upper part of his stick and went wide of the net.

Robert Thomas was playing a good game. However, He’d be denied by Anders Nilsson again though (this time by the right pad). Ivan Barbashev then failed to capitalize on a good one-timer chance.

At 6:33, It happened. Take a look for yourself. Here’s the failed assignment by Robby Fabbri.

This goal is not on Jake Allen.

Late in the 2nd period, Brayden Schenn was robbed of a great scoring opportunity when Cody Ceci got a good stick on the puck from behind to break it up. Robert Thomas made a good play to get the puck to Schenn behind the defense but it just didn’t pay off.

Ottawa put 12 shots on goal to St. Louis’ 8 in this frame.

3rd Period

Brady Tkachuk and Vince Dunn were sent to the box with matching minors. Tkachuk gave Dunn a cross check from behind and Vince Dunn retaliated with a slash.

Nilsson continued his show. Ryan O’Reilly showed some frustration after his best opportunity of the night. Colton Parayko shot wide of the net. Then Ryan O’Reilly tipped a Colton Parayko shot. It went wide. Also, there was a great spinning play by Steen that would put him right in front of the goal, but he missed the net. Colton Parayko set up Brayden Schenn for a one-timer and he shot wide. You get it…

Side note: I saw a lot of shots going right for Nilsson’s gut in this game.

There was a delay of game penalty on Christian Wolanin at 14:19. Again, Thomas played a good game. He set up Steen who nearly tied the game, but nope. He hit the post. The Blues put 2 shots on goal during this Power Play.

Jake Allen would be pulled for the extra attacker with 1:40 remaining and Chris Tierney’s empty netter was scored with 57 seconds on the clock. Craig Berube then pulled Allen again, 2 goals down but the Blues weren’t able to make anything happen as time ran out.

St. Louis put 14 shots on goal and held Ottawa to 3 in the 3rd.

Obviously, Anders Nilsson deserves credit. He played a great game, and the Senators in front of him were willing to block shots.

Post Game

“I thought we didn’t play up to our standards today”, Alex Steen told Darren Pang in the Fox Sports Midwest Post-Game interview. “I thought our execution and sharpness wasn’t quite there”. He later added, “[we] weren’t getting on the inside enough and really made it easy for Ottawa”.

Head Coach Craig Berube told the media, “We’re running into some tough luck right now for sure on scoring, but you know... It’s pretty simple. It’s not complicated. You gotta get to the net. You gotta battle. You gotta find loose pucks around the net. We needed a better net presence tonight in the game. Gotta take the goalies eyes away a little bit more”.

The Blues now hold the 1st Wild Card spot as the Dallas Stars defeated the Minnesota Wild last night to climb ahead. The Arizona Coyotes are now 2 points back of the Blues, but St. Louis has 1 game in hand.

St. Louis will faceoff against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday at PPG Paints Arena.

Catch the game on NHLN, ATTSN-PT, FS-MW, KMOX 1120 (12:00 PM CT)

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