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Binnington, Blues Hold on to Shock Lightning 4-3

Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko (91) celebrates his goal with his teammates that gave them a 3-0 lead. (Photo courtesy: Jeff Curry, USA Today Sports)

ST. LOUIS, MO – The St. Louis Blues (39-27-8) played what could be their toughest game of the remaining regular season in a 4-3 win against the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning (58-13-4). Vladimir Tarasenko and Brayden Schenn put up a goal and an assist each, and the Blues scored three goals in 1:15 in the first period to help secure the win.

Jordan Binnington stood on his head throughout the game, stopping 39 shots and improving to 20-4-1. The Blues’ win improved their playoff standings to 40-27-8 while the Lightning fell to 58-14-4. The Notes now have a six-point lead over Dallas Stars for the 3rd spot in the Central division and are two points behind the Nashville Predators with a game in hand.

1st PERIOD

The St. Louis Blues managed to skate right with the Tampa Bay Lightning for the opening half of the period. Right at the ten-minute mark, Vladimir Tarasenko got a partial breakaway and was hooked by Ryan McDonagh to put St. Louis on the power play. In the final quarter of the power play, Robert Thomas scored his 8th goal of the season off a great far-side, near-pad rebound courtesy of Vince Dunn. Tyler Bozak was given the other assist that put the Blues on the scoreboard 1-0.

The Blues pressed on instantly after the goal. 48 seconds after scoring, a turnover by the Lightning got the Blues on a grinding forecheck with Oskar Sundqvist and Alexander Steen, and they didn’t disappoint. Steen also grabbed his 8th of the season moments after Robert Thomas’s goal and doubled the Notes’ lead, 2-0.

The onslaught wasn’t done there. The top line shined after having only 2 points in the last 5 games when Tarasenko buried his team-high 29th goal of the season, 37 seconds after the second goal. Ryan O’Reilly and Schenn assisted on the third goal in 1:15 to give the Blues a 3-0 lead.

The Blues would keep the Lightning at bay for the remainder of the first period and enjoyed a 3-0 lead after the opening 20 minutes. St. Louis outshot Tampa Bay 13-12.

2ND PERIOD

After the Blues controlled the tempo of the first period, Tampa showed how they became the top team in the league for the whole season in the second period. Despite the Blues opening the period on the powerplay, St. Louis was far too lackadaisical, and Alex Killorn made them pay for it, half a minute into the second. Killorn grabbed the puck all alone in front of Binnington and slipped it across his right pad shorthanded.

The Tampa Bay Lightning got on the board with Killorn’s 17th of the season, assisted by Cirelli. The Lightning continued to completely dominate the rest of the period, putting on nine shots in seven minutes until Brayden Point put the Bolts to within one.

It was Point’s 40th goal of the season, assisted by Ryan McDonagh. While the Lightning looked poised to walk all over the Blues in the final half of the period, Binnington stood tall and on his head to keep his squad’s lead alive. With five minutes left, the top line for the Blues made another statement. Brayden Schenn’s 15th of the season crawled into the net with the help of Tarasenko and Barbashev.

The Blues made it out alive 4-2 after Tampa outshot them 19-8, with one of the most pivotal third periods of their season ahead of them.

3RD PERIOD

Tampa Bay stormed with just as much fervor in the third period as the second, and their speed and physicality began to simply overpower St. Louis. Rookie Binnington continued to play his best hockey of this season, but the veteran captain Steven Stamkos finally broke through. No. 91 went top shelf right in the slot to cut the lead in half again, with the help of J.T. Miller.

The Bolts captain came up big for his club again and buried a puck with less than six minutes to play for what would have been his second goal of the night. On the lethal power play, Stamkos’s wrist shot glanced off a stick into the net; however, head coach Craig Berube challenged the goal. The play ended up being offside upon further review, and the Blues would retain their one-goal lead.

Andrei Vasilevskiy was pulled in the final two minutes of the game for an electric finish. Binnington couldn’t corral a rebound and chaos ensued in the blue paint, but the most important shot of the game by Nikita Kucherov sailed wide of an open net. The Blues got a final push to forecheck and keep the puck out of their zone just enough to secure a thrilling 4-3 victory, sweeping the season series against Tampa Bay. The Bolts outshot the Blues 42-26 by the end of the game.

POSTGAME

Brayden Schenn, who scored the game-winning goal, reflected on the gravity of beating the best team in the league twice to STL Today: “It’s huge, huge for team confidence. For us to beat them two times this year, it gives the team confidence. We know we’re a good team in here… you don’t beat a team like that without everyone.”

The Blues, who are 3 for 3 on this homestand, host the Vegas Golden Knights for the final fourth game on Monday at 8 pm ET. The Lightning head back home to host the Boston Bruins Monday at 8:30 pm ET. Broadcasts of the games will be provided by:

VGK@STL: ATRM, FSMW, KRLV 1340, KMOX 1120
BOS@TBL: NESN, SunS, WHLL 1450, WFLA 970

For more local Blues stories, insights and more, visit bluesrants.com!

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Phillip Miller

Phillip Miller became a Blues fan in high school after discovering the game of hockey while living in southern Illinois. He has been writing for Blues Rants since early 2019 and still remains a student and lover of the game. Phillip currently resides in Fargo, North Dakota.

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