New York, NY – “These little town Blues are melting away; I’ll make a brand-new start of it in old New York…” –Frank Sinatra, New York, New York
The St. Louis Blues (41-27-8) kicked off a northeastern road swing on the wrong foot in a 2-4 loss against the New York Rangers (29-34-13). Pavel Buchnevich and Ryan Strome scored two goals in two minutes and the Rangers added two more unanswered goals to finish off St. Louis. The Blues’ 4-game winning streak was snapped tonight after the chance to clinch a playoff spot on their own fell out of their grasp.
Bulgarian goaltender Alexander Georgiev had one of his best performances in his 2-year tenure in the NHL, stopping 44 of 46 shots. David Perron scored, and Vladimir Tarasenko grabbed his 30th goal in the loss, which makes it his 5th consecutive 30+ goal season. The Rangers, despite being out of the playoffs, improve to 30-34-13 while the Blues fall to 41-28-8. The Blues, thanks to a 3-2 Colorado shootout win, are officially in the playoffs.
The Blues and Rangers started slowly in the first period, but St. Louis was able to retain more zone time and pressure. The pace picked up when the Blues got better chances from the top 6 forwards and pressured the puck right up on Georgiev’s doorstep. The net-crashing play finally paid off in the last 6 minutes of the period, when Vladimir Tarasenko jammed in a puck past Georgiev’s right pad on an odd chance to put St. Louis up 1-0.
— x – St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) March 29, 2019
The top line of O’Reilly, Schenn and Tarasenko all earned points on the play. The Blues continued immediately on the next shift: David Perron received a perfect feed in front of the net courtesy of Jaden Schwartz and tipped in his 21st of the season just 27 seconds after the first goal for St. Louis.
— x – St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) March 29, 2019
The Blues put on more quality chances to round out the first but couldn’t grab any more goals. On the other side, New York got a great chance off the rush when Mika Zibanejad banked a perfect feed into the net, but after a St. Louis challenge the call was overturned for goaltender interference. The Blues headed to the locker room enjoying a 2-0 lead yet getting outshot 11-10.
The Blues stepped up their speed in the middle frame and generated much more chances than in the first, but some inaccurate shooting and a rebounding Alexander Georgiev kept the puck out of the net. That gave New York an opportunity to answer for the lackluster first, and they did. Vladislav Namestnikov capitalized on a bad turnover in the neutral zone and wristed a shot in the slot. Jordan Binnington made the initial save, but Ryan Strome found the juicy rebound before he could corral it.
Strome now has 16 goals with #NYR!
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) March 30, 2019
The goal cut St. Louis’ lead in half, 2-1, just over 2 minutes into the second period. Then, just two minutes later, The Rangers used the jolt from the first goal to even the scoreboard. Another turnover by Colton Parayko gave Zibanejad the puck, who fed it perfectly to a streaking Pavel Buchnevich. The one-timer easily found its way to twine, and the Blues found their two-goal lead erased in 120 seconds.
St. Louis wouldn’t take the resurgence of New York lightly and proceeded to put on seven unanswered shots. However, the last line for the Blueshirts would remain perfect through the second, and the game would be tied after 40. The Blues put on a whopping 20 shots to head to the locker room outshooting the Rangers 30-20.
The Blues looked to pour it on after working in their zone for most of the game, save for two minutes in the second. However, despite the myriad of chances, they couldn’t find twine. The New York Rangers scored when another defensive miscue gave Brett Howden a 1-on-1 chance in front of Jordan Binnington, and the rebound control burned St. Louis again. Jimmy Vesey grabbed his 17th goal and career-high 34th point of the season to give the Rangers their first lead, 3-2.
The Blues, now down with fourteen minutes to go, threw everything but the kitchen sink at Georgiev but couldn’t find an answer. With Binnington pulled in the final 2 minutes, the Blues desperately tried to find the tying goal (as well as the point that would earn them a playoff spot), but Chris Kreider had other plans. In his first game back since March 19th, Kreider buried his 27th in the form of an easy empty netter in the dying seconds of the game to seal the Rangers win, 4-2. The Blues put on a season-high 46 shots but dropped the game against a non-playoff team for the 15th time this season.
The Blues felt the loss that could have secured a playoff spot on their own. “We want to earn that playoff position, and that’s a disappointing loss,” Ryan O’Reilly commented to Fox Sports Midwest. “We just deviated from our gameplan a little too much.”
Despite the loss, forward Tyler Bozak understood that it was a learning experience with some positives looking forward: “Up 2-0, you should win that game… We had a lot of chances, so it’s obviously frustrating, but there’s a lot of good things to take away from tonight,” he told Darren Pang after the game. “[The Rangers] will be a good team in the years to come.”
Rangers’ head coach David Quinn recognized the performance of his goaltender as a major contribution to the win: “We found a way to win. Obviously, our goalie had a lot to do with it, and we got a timely goal in the third period.”
The Blues clinched a playoff berth courtesy of the Colorado Avalanche after a 3-2 shootout win over the Arizona Coyotes late last night. St. Louis will head to New Jersey Saturday night to play the Devils at 7 pm ET, while the New York Rangers head to Philadelphia on Sunday to face the Flyers. To track both those games, head to:
STL@NJD: FSMW, MSG+, KMOX 1120, WFAN 660, NHL.tv
NYR@PHI: NBC, 97.5 WPEN, WNYM 970, NHL.tv
For more local Blues stories, insights and more, visit bluesrants.com!