Blues, Jake Allen a Well Oiled Machine in Edmonton

Rogers Place Arena- Edmonton, Alberta; Justin Faulk and Jay Bouwmeester battle for a puck Wednesday night. (Amber Bracken/The Canadian Press via AP photo)

St. Louis, 10-3-3, Best overall record in the Western Conference @ Edmonton, 10-4-2, 1st Place in the Pacific Division

Coach Berube’s team skates into Edmonton amid a five-game winning streak. They’re living a bit of a charmed life, as they have won all five games by a single goal, four of them in OT. The Blues will take their 2 points any way they can get it as they try to stay near the top and in contention in the Western Conference.

The Oilers are nipping at the Blues’ heels as they sit atop the Pacific Division and just one point back of the Blues for the best record in the conference. Edmonton is led by the dynamic scoring duo of Leon Draisaitl (13 goals/14 assists) and their captain, Connor McDavid (7 goals/17 assists).

Edmonton is coming off an OT loss against the Phoenix Coyotes Monday night, while the Blues had yet another overtime hero when Jaden Schwartz scored his 2nd of the year to knock off the Canucks Tuesday night 2-1.

The Blues will try to keep their winning streak going with Jake Allen between the pipes tonight. Jordan Binnington may have had his best game of the season Tuesday night in Vancouver- stopping 33 of 34 shots- but with back to back road games, he’ll get some rest this evening. It’s the two best teams in the Western Conference as the Blues take on Edmonton in game 3 of a four-game road trip.

1st period

The 2 top teams in the conference traded power plays goals in the first period. Robert Thomas went to the box for holding 2 minutes into the game, and it didn’t take long for Connor McDavid to make it 1-0. The Edmonton captain took a pass from Leon Draisaitl and snuck it past Allen through a small crack from a sharp angle. Edmonton goalie Mike Smith had the secondary assist on the play.

Four minutes later, it was the Blues’ turn on the power play when Tomas Jurco took down Pietrangelo with a trip. Fifteen seconds into the penalty, Jaden Schwartz scored his 2nd in as many nights when he deflected a shot from Pietrangelo past Smith. The goal was initially credited to Pietrangelo but changed to Schwartz during the 1st intermission. David Perron assisted on the play.

The game was pretty evenly played during the first period, with the Blues showing determination and plenty of jump for having just played the night before. Colton Parayko nearly stuffed a wrap-around past Smith with 8 minutes to play, then fired his rebound high and into the crowd. Zach Sanford and David Perron each hit the crossbar behind Smith inside 6 minutes left in the period.

Leon Draisaitl nearly gave the Oilers the lead with 15 seconds left when he skated in front of Allen on a feed from McDavid, but his shot hit the left post. Allen did a great job keeping the rebound out of the net when he sprawled on his back and covered up.

At the end of the first, the score was even at one, and the shots were even at 7.

2nd period

The top line for the Oilers with McDavid and Draisaitl came out flying and had a few quality scoring chances right from the go. The Blues weathered the storm though and regained some momentum. Vince Dunn hit the post from just inside the blue line, and then Sammy Blais drew an interference penalty on Draisaitl.

A little over a minute into the power play, Pietrangelo sent a wicked one-timer past Smith when Ryan O’Reilly slid him a perfect pass from near the right boards. The captain had his 1st-period goal reassigned to Jaden Schwartz, but he left no doubt this time. The one-timer was his 6th goal of the season, with Brayden Schenn logging his 2nd assist on the night.

The Blue Note continued to control the pace of play for the most part, and with 8 minutes left in the period, Sammy Blais drew another penalty, this one a kneeing call on Alex Chiasson. The 3rd Blues power play may have been their best – even though they didn’t score. They controlled the o-zone faceoffs, kept the puck in the zone, had clean, crisp puck movement, and applied steady pressure for the duration of the penalty.

A few minutes later, Robert Thomas scored his 3rd goal of the season to make it 3-1 St. Louis. After Jake Allen made one of many great saves on the night, the Blues headed the other way, and Jaden Schwartz found Thomas at the top of the right circle. Thomas had passed up a shot on a two on one earlier, but this time he zipped a quick wrister past Smith to give the Blues a little cushion.

Steen Leaves Game with Leg Injury

With a minute left in the 2nd period, Justin Faulk took a slashing penalty. Thirty seconds into their penalty kill, Alexander Steen got tangled up with Alex Chiasson and injured his left leg. Steen left the ice with help and noticeably did not put any weight on the leg. The Blues have done a great job so far without Vladimir Tarasenko, but they can ill afford to lose another important forward. St. Louis survived the rest of the period with Edmonton on the power play, but they would have another minute to kill at the beginning of the 3rd.

3rd period

Alexander Steen would not return, so the Blues would have to brace through an Edmonton flurry without one of their best defensive forwards as the Oilers applied steady pressure. Edmonton controlled the tempo and flow for most of the period, but the Blues and backup goalie Jake Allen did not wilt.

Allen Shines in Net

Four minutes into the 3rd, Allen made the save of the game. Patrick Russell corralled a bouncing puck along the left sideboards and sent a pass to an open Chiasson in front of the net. Allen made a good save on Chiasson’s initial shot, but made a highlight reel, falling backward glove save on Chiasson’s rebound to keep it a 3-1 game.

Five minutes later, Allen made yet another fantastic save when he stuffed Zack Kassian’s point-blank rebound, just after making a good save on a one-timer from Draisaitl. After Jordan Binnington arguably had his best game of the year the night before in Vancouver, Allen was easily having his best game of the season in Edmonton.

Edmonton Continues Their Push

Kassian was robbed on his earlier rebound attempt, but he got his revenge on Allen when he broke in alone on right-wing. Kassian snapped a wrister past the Blues’ goalie to make it 3-2. Draisaitl and McDavid had the assists on the play.

Edmonton continued to pressure, but to their credit, the Blues did not sit back. They had some excellent chances of their own, and with 6 minutes left in the game Colton Parayko came in on a partial break, but Smith denied him. Immediately, the Oilers skated back the other way and had a two on 1 with (you guessed it) McDavid and Draisaitl. Pietrangelo slid in front of McDavid to block his pass, but somehow the puck bounced over to Draisaitl, who got just enough wood on it to send it toward the net. Once again, Allen was strong in net and made a dazzling, forward lunging save. Allen ended up on his stomach, covering the puck at the whistle with bodies strewn all over the ice around him.

So here we go into the final minutes of another nail biter. And the nails just got chewed on a bit more when Brayden Schenn sent the puck over the glass in his end while trying to clear. The delay of game gave the Oilers a power play with 2:28 to go in the period. Once they controlled the puck in the Blues’ zone, they pulled Smith and would have a six on four advantage for the last 2 minutes.

The Oilers had a few chances, but Allen continued to shut the door, and with a minute left in the game, Tyler Bozak lofted the puck into the Oilers’ zone while falling to the ice. When the puck hit the ice, it took a funny bounce, changed direction, and rolled into the net to make it 4-2 Blues.

It was the Blues’ first short-handed goal of the season. Thirty seconds later, the Blues had their 2nd short-handed goal of the year when Ivan Barbashev found the empty net to make it 5-2. It was Barbashev’s first, assisted by Pietrangelo, who had 3 points on the evening.

 

Summary

The 5-2 final score does not indicate what a close and hard-fought game this was. It was 3-2 Blues with 9 minutes left and the Oilers pressuring, but the Blues defense and Jake Allen were up to the task. Allen has had his critics, but he stood tall tonight, stopping 32 of 34 shots. No less than 3 of Allen’s saves were of the highlight-reel variety.

St. Louis has now won 6 in a row, and with 25 points are tied with the Washington Capitals for the best record in the NHL. The Blues continue to grind out wins, and it is encouraging to see Tyler Bozak and Jaden Schwartz score in consecutive games after getting off to slow starts. The Blues are going to need contributions from everyone to soften the blow of Tarasenko’s extended absence. Of concern, however, is the status of Alexander Steen, who suffered a leg injury at the end of the 2nd period.

Robby Fabbri Traded to Detroit

At the end of the game, it was announced that the Blues had traded Robby Fabbri to Detroit for center Jacob de la Rose. de la Rose, a 6′ 3″, 215 lb. left-winger was a 2nd round draft pick of Montreal in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.  He has one goal and three assists in 16 games played this season.

The Blues wrap up their four-game road trip Saturday night when they visit the Calgary Flames at the Saddledome.

 

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