Hats rain down on Blues forward Jaden Schwartz (17) after his 3rd goal put the Blues up 7-2. (Photo courtesy: Dilip Vishwanat, AP Photo)
ST. LOUIS, MO – Jaden Schwartz got a monkey off his back in outstanding fashion tonight.
The St. Louis Blues (37-27-8) looked like the team that tore through the league back in February Tuesday night with an authoritative 7-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers (32-33-7). Jaden Schwartz and David Perron put up five goals and seven points on the scoreboard for their club. In addition, Pat Maroon grabbed his third goal in as many games. With Dallas beating Florida, the Blues retain the two-point lead and the 3rd-place spot in the Central Division. St. Louis improved to 38-27-8 while Edmonton fell to 32-34-7.
The opening pace for the Blues was one of the most electrifying we’ve seen this season. Vladimir Tarasenko and company made a powerful statement on the opening shift to register a great initial chance, and the pace only heightened. Perron, Oskar Sundqvist and Schwartz displayed great chemistry together, while veteran Alexander Steen added some discipline with the young kids Zach Sanford and Ivan Barbashev.
The game would go nearly seven minutes without a single stoppage, including a great breakaway opportunity by Tarasenko. The Oilers went nine minutes without a single shot on net, while the Blues made sure to keep superstar Connor McDavid constricted of open ice. Finally, the Blues scored first after grinding work from Perron allowed him to feed Schwartz, who roofed the puck over Mikko Koskinen’s glove.
Schwartz grabbed his eighth goal of the season courtesy of Perron and Michael Del Zotto. The Blues continued to turn on the jets and used their speed to keep Edmonton chasing at every turn. Despite only finding the back of the net once after the opening 20 minutes, the Blues outshot Edmonton 13-5.
The Blues entered the second period full throttle, after no. 27 scored 27 seconds into the frame. Alex Pietrangelo put his club up 2-0 with a quick-developing play and a great saucer pass from Jaden Schwartz on the opening shift.
Pietrangelo’s 13th goal was also the 45th goal from a Blues defenseman, which leads the NHL. Schwartz and Sundqvist grabbed two more points on the assists. St. Louis could not be stopped, with another goal by Jaden Schwartz coming less than five minutes later. A screen by Maroon helped Schwartz grab his second of the night and 9th of the season, and Edmonton would replace Mikko Koskinen with Anthony Stolarz.
The onslaught only continued: 92 seconds after Schwartz’s 3rd point, Perron would grab his second, scoring a bank-shot off Stolarz’s pads behind the cage. Perron’s 19th goal was assisted by Jay Bouwmeester and Oskar Sundqvist to put St. Louis up 4-0 less than halfway through the game.
After a fight between Maroon and Zack Kassian, the remainder of the second period was sloppy for St. Louis. Despite failing to register a single shot through half of the second, the Oilers fired eight shots in nine minutes. Of those nine, two of them squeaked past Jordan Binnington’s left pad on undisciplined giveaways by both he and the Blues defense, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zack Kassian got the Oilers right back into it.
The Blues gave up those two goals in the final 90 seconds of the period and headed to the locker room up by a pair. Despite the late push by the Oilers, the Blues launched an assault on Stolarz through 40, outshooting Edmonton 28-13.
The Blues learned from their mistakes in the final 20 and came back skating much more disciplined. Alex Chiasson was found guilty of a hooking minor on Vince Dunn and put the Blues on the power play. Six minutes into the third, David Perron tipped in his second goal of the evening on the power play to give the three-goal lead back to St. Louis, 5-2.
It was Perron’s 19th of the season and 20th point in sixteen consecutive games. Jay Bouwmeester and Oskar Sundqvist were awarded the helpers on the power play goal. Afterwards, the pressure only continued as the “Big Rig’s” grinding efforts around the crease paid off. Pat Maroon jammed in his third goal in as many games against his former club to give the Blues a 6-2 lead. Linemates Robert Thomas and Tyler Bozak earned assists on the play.
While the game was already put to bed and the teams would likely call it a night, one player still had more to say. The Blues got a 5-minute major power play after Milan Lucic checked Oskar Sundqvist hard into the boards. As a result, Sundqvist would head to the locker room for potential injury, while Lucic was ejected from the game. Late in the game, the power play paid off for Schwartz after a perfect behind-the-net feed from Zach Sanford saw rubber in twine and caps on ice.
Jaden Schwartz’s fourth career hat trick came courtesy of Sanford and Bozak in the final 90 seconds of the game. The Blues gave the hometown crowd plenty to cheer about as the game came to a close, 7-2 the final score. The Blues put a monstrous 44 shots on net to Edmonton’s 17. Jordan Binnington made 15 saves and improved to 18-4-1.
Save for 90 ticks of the second, the Blues played one of their best full games of the season and earned a pivotal win in the playoff race.
Interim head coach Craig Berube had plenty of praises for his club, particularly of Jaden Schwartz. “We had a really good start to the game. We had a really good mindset coming into this, we played our game,” Berube told STL-Today. “When a player like [Schwartz] hasn’t been produced the way he wants to, getting the hat trick tonight will give him confidence, for sure”.
Coach Ken Hitchcock addressed the media the best he could following the loss to his former club. “They played a real good team game and we were running on fumes, we need to get home and see if we can get some rest… We just need to regroup and get ready for the homestand. It’s a tough loss.”
Oskar Sundqvist left late in the third period after a hit by Milan Lucic. Coach Berube says “We’ll know more tomorrow on him, but he should be fine.”
The Blues continue their homestand when the Detroit Red Wings come to town on Thursday, while the Oilers head home to face the Columbus Blue Jackets. Those games will be covered by:
DET@STL: FSDT, FSMW, WTRX 1330, KMOX 1120, NHL.tv
CBJ@EDM: FSOH, SN1, WARF 1350, CHED 630, NHL.tv
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