Blues Break Out – Score 5 in Pittsburgh

(Associated Press/Gene J Puskar photo)

Blues Bounce Back With 5-1 Win in Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH, PA – After three straight losses, no one knew what to expect. No one knew which team would show up. Saturday afternoon, the team that took the ice was a team that could beat the best teams in the league.

The Blues team that showed up was the same team that shut out the Tampa Bay Lightning 1-0 in overtime on February 7th in Tampa. It was the same team that went to Winnipeg December 7th and won by that same score. The only difference today was that the team that showed up not only kept the opponent from scoring for most of the game. They also put the puck in the net, five times.

On their way to a 5-1 victory over Sidney Crosby and company St. Louis got three more goals from defensemen to set a new club record. It was the first time ever in the history of Blues hockey that 3 defensemen have had 10 or more goals. Alex Pietrangelo (12), Colton Parayko (10) and now Vince Dunn (11) have combined with the rest of the D-corps for a total of 43 goals. The Blues lead the league in goals by their defense.

This game was dominated by the Blues as every aspect of their game was working like a well-oiled machine stifling Pittsburgh’s offense and churning out goals on the other end at the same time.

First Period

The scoring started less than five minutes into the game. Oskar Sundqvist dug a puck out of the corner in his defensive zone and got it up the wall to Colton Parayko. As he crossed the blue line, Parayko dropped it off to Jaden Schwartz. It looked like Pittsburgh had contained the offensive rush. But Schwartz found Sundqvist who was following the play and calling for the puck. A perfect pass to his tape near the top of the right circle found its way to the far post and in the net, beating Matt Murray for a 1-0 lead.

The goal was Sundqvist’s 13th of the season. It came against the team who drafted him in the same round as their star goaltender, Murray. Both guys were taken in the 3rd round of the 2012 draft. Sundqvist was 81st overall. Murray was 83rd.

The Penguins power play, scoring at a 26% clip for the season and good enough for 3rd in the league, got two chances in the period but the Blues killed them both off.

Vince Dunn’s first goal of the game came at the 13:34 mark of the period when Ryan O’Reilly found him in the high slot. Dunn’s wrister beat Murray, who was screened by his own man on the play. This was Dunn’s 10th on the season and was the goal that set the mark noted above. He added another for good measure later in the 3rd period.

The first period ended with wave after wave of Blues attacking the Pittsburgh end of the ice. Other than the 2 power plays by the Penguins, the Blues dominated the first period.

Second Period

Wasting no time, and not resting on what they had done in the first, the Blues got right to work early in the second period. Pat Maroon was the benefactor of a great play by Robert Thomas. The rookie took the puck after a faceoff in the Blues zone, all the way up ice along the left boards. He entered the Penguins zone and kept the puck, waiting for something to develop. As he skated behind the net he found Maroon camped out in front of the goal crease.

His pass was perfect through traffic and all Maroon had to do was get his stick on it and it was in the net for a 3-0 St. Louis lead.

Just 50 seconds later, Maroon showed off some of his stick-handling skills as he dangled and darted around Pittsburgh defenders to a spot behind the net. From there he found Jay Bouwmeester all alone in front and the 35-year-old defenseman made no mistake beating Murray. It was all she wrote for Murray. Coach Mike Sullivan had seen enough as Casey DeSmith took over in net.

Pittsburgh managed to score their only goal midway through the period when Dominik Simon found a loose puck that St. Louis had failed to clear from their own zone. His unassisted goal at the 9:53 mark was the end of the scoring for the period. It was 4-1 Blues.

Third Period

Vince Dunn’s second goal of the game and 11th on the season was a power-play goal and was set up by Thomas and Parayko. The Blues were 1 for 2 when given the man advantage in this game. Pittsburgh was 0 for 4.

This was a good win for the Blues, who regained 3rd place in the Central Division. They sit 2 points up on Dallas with an equal number of games played. Next up, Buffalo.

My Thoughts

  • David Perron made his return to the lineup after missing 24 games with a concussion. He joined Brayden Schenn and O’Reilly on the top line and kept his personal scoring streak going with an assist on Dunn’s first goal. Prior to his injury, Perron has scored in 13 straight games. Although the NHL doesn’t count the streak when a player misses a game, he has now scored in 14 straight games that he has played in.
  • The top line had some good scoring chances and it looked like they had some good chemistry at times in this game although it was Perron’s first game back. Perfect timing, with all of the other injuries the Blues have right now.
  • Tarasenko should be re-evaluated in a couple of days. Let’s hope he’s ready to go soon. This team needs him.
  • Binnington had an outstanding game. He needed to bounce back after a couple of less-than-stellar outings. He stopped 40 of 41 shots for a .976 save percentage and was the game’s first-star stopping breakaways by two of the game’s best in Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.
  • Eleven Blues recorded points in this game. Parayko, Dunn, Thomas, and Maroon all had 2 points each. It’s great to score 5 goals in a game where your top line doesn’t score any.

Defense and Special Teams

  • The penalty kill was outstanding today against the 3rd best power-play in the league. Over the last 20 games, the Blues have killed 43 of 48 penalties for an 89.5% effectiveness.
  • What a turnaround for Jay Bouwmeester! Glad to see him return to form and play the way he has during the last month or so.
  • The defense did an outstanding job of limiting Crosby, Malkin, Kessel, and crew from having many opportunities.
  • Looks like it will be Jake Allen against Carter Hutton when the Blues take on Ryan O’Reilly’s old team Sunday at 4 PM.
  • Let’s shuffle off to Buffalo and beat the Sabres! Let’s Go Blues!

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