Blues Let One Slip Away Against Arizona

Enterprise Center, St. Louis, MO – Jordan Binnington stops a shot from Arizona’s Christian Dvorak in Tuesday night’s game. (Scott Rovak/NHL via Getty Images)

Arizona Coyotes, 10-6-2, 3rd place in Pacific Division @ St. Louis Blues, 12-3-3, 1st place in Central Division

Arizona travels to the Gateway City to take on the Blues, owners of the best record in the Western Conference. David Perron netted yet another overtime game-winner Saturday night- this time against Calgary- to extend the Blues’ winning streak to 7 games. Meanwhile, the Coyotes had a little OT magic of their own in DC last night, beating the Capitals in a shootout after neither team could breakthrough in the 5 minute OT.

Coach Berube’s team has so far managed to plow ahead and pile up points game after game, even without star winger Vladimir Tarasenko. But the additional loss of Alexander Steen to a high ankle sprain has the Blues considering adding some depth. It remains to be seen, however, whether they will call up prospects from San Antonio (Jordan Kyrou, Klim Kostin?) or go the veteran free-agent route. St. Louis has invited Jamie McGinn and former fan favorite Troy Brouwer in for tryouts. McGinn has played with Ryan O’Reilly in the past, with Buffalo and Colorado.

The Blues look to extend their winning streak to 8 games, perhaps taking advantage of some tired legs as Arizona ran into some bad weather trying to get out of DC. They didn’t arrive in St. Louis until about 3:45 am and are playing the 2nd game of a back to back.

1st period

St. Louis controlled play for the first 6 minutes of the period, with good forechecking and extended o-zone time, but they weren’t getting a lot of pucks on net. The best chance for the Blues came when Alex Pietrangelo faked a shot and sent a pass right onto the tape of David Perron’s stick. Perron redirected it at Arizona goalie Darcy Kuemper, but he was in an excellent position to make the save.

Although the Coyotes outshot the Blues 9-8 in the period, Jordan Binnington wasn’t tested too often. His best save came on Derek Stepan at 13:25 when Stepan broke loose in front of the net.

There was only one power play in the period, and that went to the Blues. Ilya Lyubushkin went off for tripping Mackenzie MacEachern, but the Blues were never able to comfortably set up due to the aggressive play by the Coyotes on the kill. They pressed the puck constantly and never gave the Blues much room to work.

The Blues continued to play their game, though, and with a little under 3 minutes left in the period, Pietrangelo sent a long pass to Brayden Schenn, who had enough room to skate in and fire a slapper at Kuemper. Kuemper made the save, but the rebound popped free in front of Jaden Schwartz. Schwartz poked it home, and it was 1-0 Blues.

Ryan O’Reilly had a great chance to make it 2-0 with a minute left in the period when he got free right in front of the Arizona goal, but Kuemper made a spectacular glove save, causing O’Reilly to break his stick in frustration when he returned to the bench.

2nd period

The 2nd period started with the Coyotes getting a couple of quick shots on goal, but Binnington made some strong saves to keep the 1-0 lead. St. Louis continued their active play and zone presence, dominating the action, but they ran into a little bad luck.

With nearly 7 minutes gone, it looked like Arizona had iced the puck. Perhaps the Blues slowed down a bit in anticipation of a whistle, but at any rate, Arizona kept skating. With the Blues scrambling a bit to get the puck out of their zone, Perron committed a bad turnover, passing the puck out in front of his net. Clayton Keller made the Blues pay when he beat Binnington low right side, off the post and in to tie it up at 1.

A minute later, Jakob Chychrun lifted the puck over the glass from his zone to give the Blues another power play. Their 2nd power-play yielded more chances than the first- the Blues controlled the puck a bit more and sent two shots on Kuemper- but the Coyotes continued to look sharp on the PK, with constant hustle and puck pressure.

It looked like the Blues were going to be the beneficiary of a double-minor when Oskar Sundqvist took a stick to the face that drew blood (a penalty was initially called on Lawson Crouse). Still, the officials reviewed the play and determined Sundqvist leaned into the stick on Crouse’s follow-through. No penalty.

Colton Parayko scored on a hard wrist shot at 15:41 of the 2nd to regain the lead for the Blues. Ivan Barbashev gained control of the puck in the Blues’ zone and sent an outlet pass to Sundqvist along the left boards. Sundqvist spotted Parayko motoring up the middle of the ice and sent a slick pass right to his blade. After a stride or 2, Parayko rifled a wrister past Kuemper for his first goal of the season.

Sammy Blais took a penalty with 2 minutes left in the period for an illegal check to the head of Jason Demers, but the Blues penalty kill stood up, blocking numerous passes and allowing no shots.

St. Louis had 16 shots in the period and went into the 2nd intermission with a 2-1 lead.

3rd period

The Coyotes scored their first goal early in the 2nd period when the officials chose not to call an icing. They may have been the beneficiary of another questionable call when Justin Faulk was penalized for tripping Carl Soderberg. Faulk and Soderberg were battling for the puck near the corner, and it looked like Soderberg just fell.

On the ensuing power play, Clayton Keller had a give and go with Conor Garland, and Garland’s one-timer beat Binnington glove side at 5:58. Although the Blues had been dominating play for most of the game, one started to get the uneasy feeling that things may not go their way. Between the bad puck luck and missed opportunities, it was starting to feel like one of those games where the better team doesn’t win.

Undaunted by the downward turn of events; however, the Blues continued to push. Pietrangelo found Schwartz wide open in front of the net. All Schwartz had to do was get a solid stick on the puck for a 3-2 lead, but he only got a piece of it. He partially fanned and then had the puck bounce in his skates before the Coyotes were able to clear it out of harm’s way. Schwartz had multiple prime scoring chances on the night and easily could’ve had a hat trick if the puck bounced his way- or didn’t bounce on him so much.

With 8:35 left in the game, Alex Goligoski served a 2 minute minor for tripping Oskar Sundqvist, but the Arizona penalty kill continued its impressive play with constant puck pressure. The pressure led to a shorthanded break by Lawson Crouse and a bid to win the game in regulation for the Coyotes, but Jordan Binnington came up with a huge save on Crouse’s forehand/backhand attempt.

The Blues ended the period with a flurry of chances, Tyler Bozak firing from in close and a Pietrangelo one-timer, but Darcy Kuemper was the star of the game. He held firm, and for the 2nd game in a row, both teams would head to overtime.

Overtime

David Perron and Ryan O’Reilly had been recent OT heroes for the Blues, and they started the overtime period teamed up with Colton Parayko. The Blues completely controlled the puck for the first minute and a half but took a ‘too many men on the ice’ penalty when Robert Thomas had the puck hit his skate while St. Louis was changing. The penalty kill held firm, though, and neither team had very good scoring opportunities during the OT period.

Shootout

For the 2nd night in a row, the Coyotes left the arena of a recent Stanley Cup Champion with the extra point gained in a shootout win. They knocked off the Capitals Monday night in DC and took care of the Blues tonight when Nick Schmaltz and Conor Garland sent their shots past Binnington. Kuemper denied both Tyler Bozak and Ryan O’Reilly, so there would be no overtime hero for St. Louis on this night.

Summary

The Blues gain a point, but the shootout loss ends their seven-game winning streak. A missed call here and a bad bounce there and St. Louis finds themselves on the losing end of a game they should have won. Overall the Blues were the best team on the ice tonight, but they missed some golden opportunities, and Darcy Kuemper kept Arizona in the game.

The Blue Note heads to Columbus Friday to take on the Blue Jackets, who are currently in 7th place in the East’s Metropolitan Division. It will be interesting to see what, if any, additions St. Louis makes to the roster between now and then.

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