Blues forward David Perron (57) launches a wrist shot in the new 90s throwback jerseys. (Photo courtesy: Troy Stolt, STL Post-Dispatch)
The St. Louis Blues (14-4-5) debuted their 90s throwback jerseys in the best way tonight, laying a 5-0 beatdown against the Calgary Flames (10-12-3). The Blues were off to a radical start in their throwback jerseys, as the top line of Tyler Bozak, Jaden Schwartz and Brayden Schenn came in all guns blazing. David Rittich was strong in net, but Zach Sanford drew first blood with a one-time blast late in the first period.
The Blues fed off their energy from the first period (as well as a massive hit from Vince Dunn) and grabbed two more goals in the second. Sundqvist scored on a clear-cut breakaway courtesy of Sanford and David Perron would later net his 10th of the year on the power play. Jordan Binnington kept as cool as the ice, and the goalposts helped him keep pucks out during the second period.
The “third line” of Thomas, Sanford and Sundqvist continued to dominate in the offensive end, when Oskar Sundqvist capitalized on a bad play by Rittich. Later on, Vince Dunn lasered a wrist shot to make it 5-0 for the Blues, and that sealed the deal. Binnington played a huge part in the win, making 40 saves to earn his first shutout of the season.
The Blues got off to a red-hot start in their own building, when the new top line of Bozak, Schwartz and Schenn laid siege to David Rittich. He wouldn’t back down early in the game, however, and soon Calgary would mount an offensive with Zach Rinaldo and Matthew Tkachuk. Jordan Binnington, donning his new “Cujo” mask, stayed as cool as the former Blues goaltender and held off every shot.
The Blues continued to pound on the door with more and more grade-A chances until Sanford finally broke the ice. Robert Thomas deked his way around Sean Monahan and sauced a perfect pass to Zach Sanford from the far corner and he blasted a one-timer.
The game turned into a track meet shortly after that first goal, 12 minutes into the first period. Both teams got their legs moving and Calgary put everything they could to the net. After the first 20, however, Binnington stopped every chance the Flames had, and the Blues skated off the ice leading 1-0. The Flames outshot the Blues by the end of the first, 16-13.
St. Louis kept rocking early in the second period, especially Zach Sanford and the third line. Zanford made a great feed from his own zone to put Oskar Sundqvist on a clear-cut breakaway. The Swede got just enough on the shot to beat David Rittich glove side.
The Flames continued to try and push back, but the Blues’ pressure in their own zone was clicking and the defense remained solid. The physicality remained solid, too: Vince Dunn helped draw a penalty with a WWF-style hit on Andrew Magiapane.
The Blues headed to a powerplay after Dunn’s huge hit and it didn’t take long. With three Flames lined up in the slot, Alex Pietrangelo found open real estate for David Perron, who one-timed his 10th goal of the year into the net.
With a 3-0 lead starting to suffocate the Flames, Calgary jumped out to the offensive and lasered a myriad of shots and attempts. Johnny Gaudreau nearly broke Jordan Binnington on a breakaway of his own, but his glove remained perfect again through 40. With the help of three goalpost misses from Calgary, St. Louis closed the middle frame with a dominant 3-0 lead. Even with the lead, Calgary outshot St. Louis through two periods, 33-24.
The Blues knew they couldn’t give the struggling Flames an inch in the final period. Two and a half minutes into the third, the third line pounced on David Rittich behind the net and finally made him pay. Robert Thomas intercepted the puck from Rittich, Zach Sanford joined the rush to strip the puck, and Oskar Sundqvist found an empty net.
Oskar Sundqvist grabbed his second of the game as the Blues cruised to a 4-0 lead. Calgary’s defense began to crumble as the forwards tried to get any kind of offensive pressure going. However, the Blues defense was easily handling them, mastering the breakout to start almost every rush on the man advantage. Midway through the third period, the third line continued to punish Rittich, and Vince Dunn sent a simple wrister past his glove side.
Even with another fight and a late power play, the Blues’ 5-0 lead frustrated the Flames enough to finish their night. Jordan Binnington (almost nonchalantly) shut the door on the Flames, making a career-matching 40 saves to earn his first shutout of the season.
The St. Louis Blues all recognized the offensive effort, especially by the new “third” line, was key to the big win. “It’s good to see them connecting,” goaltender Jordan Binnington told Darren Pang. “We switched the lines up a couple of days ago, and it seems to be working well. It’s good to test out what we got, and tonight the boys were connecting well, Sanford and Thomas and Sundqvist, so it’s great to see the boys doing well. “
“It’s early yet, but so far so good, I think they’re all working pretty well together,” coach Berube commented afterwards. “Sanford and Sundqvist are hard workers and they forecheck… and then you got Robert Thomas, who’s a quick player and makes good plays, so, so far it’s been a good combination.”
The Blues are up for a big divisional home-at-home split with the Nashville Predators on Saturday and next Monday, as St. Louis takes sole position of the Western Conference. To follow the action on Saturday, head to:
STL: FSMW, ESPN 101.1, Fox Sports GO, NHL.com
NSH: FSTN, WPRT, Fox Sports GO, NHL.com
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