Alexander Steen scores a shorthanded goal in the first period against the Philadelphia Flyers’ goaltender, Brian Elliott. (AP photo)
ST. LOUIS, MO – If for some reason you missed the first period of this one, you missed more goals than you’d see in the All-Star Game. The Blues came out like a team shooting at an empty net in warmups as they put 4 goals past their former teammate, Brian Elliott on just 5 shots on goal. As a result, “Moose” was pulled prior to the 7-minute mark of the first period.
The opening period was the wildest thing since the last Oprah show where everybody gets a nice gift. It seemed like everybody on the ice was scoring a goal. There were 8 goals in the first period before things finally settled down.
The Blues won this one with a final score of 7-3 but still found themselves in third place in the Central division race. There was a change in the top two spots as Nashville jumped into first with their win over Vancouver. The Predators’ Ryan Johansen scored with 29 seconds left to secure two points and propel his team past Winnipeg, who lost in overtime out in Colorado.
CENTRAL DIVISION RACE
With one game remaining for each team, the Predators are 1 point up on Winnipeg and St. Louis, with Winnipeg holding the tiebreaker over the Blues. Wins in regulation and overtime (ROW) favors the Jets. The final game of the season will determine the final standings and who has home-ice advantage in the first round.
St. Louis will host Vancouver on Saturday, while Winnipeg travels to Arizona, and Nashville will host Chicago. If the Blues do their part and win in the early game they’ll have to wait until nearly midnight to know their first-round opponent as the Jets’ game is a 9 PM central start.
The Blues could still win the Central and face Dallas or Colorado in the first round. In order for that to happen, the Blues must win and both Nashville and Winnipeg would have to lose. If Nashville picks up a point and Winnipeg loses, the Blues could be tied in points with Nashville. The two teams are also tied now in ROW and Goal differential, so it’s yet to be decided. Just like last season, things have come down to the last game of the year. This time, however, it’s not ‘do or die.’ It’s just a matter of who they’ll have to play first.
There are too many highlights to even cover in this game, but we will try to hit them quickly so as not to turn this article into a ‘who’s who’ of every player on the team.
Ivan Barbashev continued to shine with his 14th goal of the season at the 2:49 mark. The goal would open the proverbial floodgates as the Blues went on to score 5 goals in a span of just under 7 minutes.
Ryan O’Reilly netted his 28th goal of the season with a power-play goal at the 3:28 mark. The passing was crisp and quick and O’Reilly just had to tip the puck in after a great pass on his tape from David Perron. The Blues power play has been outstanding lately, scoring at nearly a 30% clip since March 3rd, good enough for 1st in the league in that time span.
The game was 3-0 at the 5:33 mark when Alexander Steen scored his 9th goal of the season on a shorthanded 2 on 1 break with Oskar Sundqvist. At this point, the Blues had a 5-on-5 goal, a power play goal, and a short-handed goal. The only thing they were missing was a penalty shot goal, but that didn’t happen.
Philadelphia got on the board just a minute and 12 seconds later when rookie Oskar Lindblom scored his 16th goal of the season.
Pat Maroon became the 12th Blues player this season to reach double digits in goals just 13 seconds after the Philly goal to make it 4-1. The goal chased Brian Elliott and the other rookie goaltender that a lot of people are talking about, Carter Hart took over.
At last check, the Blues may have tied a franchise record for players in double-digit goals. They lead the NHL in that category now. We wrote about the Blues Scoring Depth just a couple of weeks ago. They’re as deep as anybody in the league.
Philadelphia managed two more goals from James van Riemsdyk and Claude Giroux in the period but David Perron wanted in on the fun too. He added another power play goal at the 9:41 mark and the period ended 5-3. St. Louis outshot the Flyers 16-12 in a “defense optional” opening frame.
Blues twitter said it best when they said there would be no more goals for the next 18 minutes because it was the intermission. That was the only thing that could seemingly stop the puck from going in the net.
In the second period, the teams settled into more of a defensive game. The shots on goal dropped to 8-6 in favor of the Blues. The only goal in the period was Brayden Schenn‘s 16th goal of the season at the 13:06 mark. The goal horn was still working but sounded a little hoarse from all of the action in the first period.
Another period of normal hockey saw both teams each get 11 shots on goal. Only one of them went in the net. It came from Alexander Steen. His second of the game moved him to 10 on the season and set a new franchise record for Blues with 10 or more goals in a season. The Blues lead the NHL with 13 guys reaching that mark.
— x – St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) April 5, 2019
In the postgame interviews, Coach Craig Berube told the media, “We wanted sixty minutes and I think we got pretty close to sixty minutes tonight.”
- Robby Fabbri returned to the lineup tonight and replaced Zach Sanford. He got an assist on the 2nd goal by Steen. The other change in the lineup was Joel Edmundson back in for Colton Parayko who missed his first game of the season and only his 5th game of his career. Berube told the media after the game it was just a maintenance day for the big guy.
- Six different guys scored goals. 13 different players had points. Six different guys had multiple points.
- Jordan Binnington sets a new Blues franchise record for rookies with his 23rd win of the season. He was just named rookie of the month in back-to-back months of February and March and has put himself in the conversation for the Calder Trophy despite having only started 29 games. He is now 23-5-1 and leads the league with 1.89 goals against average. His .927 save percentage is currently 4th among goalies with 30 or more games played.
- The playoff teams are all set in the Western Conference. Only the final position of those teams are left to be determined. All but one spot in the East is determined with Columbus currently in and Montreal out.
- The Blues close out the regular season Saturday at 3 PM when the Vancouver Canucks come to Enterprise Center. It’s nice to finish the season with 3 of the 4 games at home this week and should give the team some extra rest as they gear up for the first-round playoff opponent next week. Let’s go Blues!