Flames at Blues

Blues Douse Flames in 5-0 Win

Ryan O’Reilly and Jordan Binnington defend the goal against Sean Monahan Thursday night in St. Louis at the Enterprise Center (Scott Rovak/NHL via Getty Images)

CONDENSED REPORT

The Blues got two goals from Oskar Sundqvist, four points from Zach Sanford and 40 stops from Jordan Binnington on their way to a 5-0 win over a struggling Calgary Flames team. The Flames have now lost six in a row and have only scored 5 goals in those six games.

The restructured lines of the Blues may not all have scored, but one of them was clicking on all cylinders and it was more than enough to carry them past the Flames and maintain their position atop the Western Conference.

Moving Robert Thomas to center, his natural position has proven to be valuable as he has displayed keen ice awareness and made some beautiful plays to set up his linemates in both of the two games he has played that position.

It was a bit disturbing that the Blues would give up so many shots (40) after holding Tampa to just 18 shots two nights ago. They’ll need to right the defensive ship with their next five opponents if they hope to continue their winning ways.

FIRST PERIOD

If Craig Berube‘s game plan was supposed to be a continuum of the last game, he certainly wasn’t happy with the way things went in the opening period. Up-and-down action was plentiful throughout the first 20 minutes. The young and speedy squad from Calgary likes to play fast and they got their way. As this one unfolded it looked like a track meet.

Calgary had 16 shots on goal to St. Louis’ 13. Keep in mind, the Blues held Tampa to just 18 shots all game Tuesday night.

Despite the fast pace of play, the end result was good as Zach Sanford one-timed a puck from the slot over the left shoulder of David Rittich for the only goal of the period. The Blues led 1-0 and carried that lead into the first intermission.

Due to an injury to Sammy Blais, who will be out 10 weeks after surgery to his right wrist, Robert Thomas played at center for his second successive game. Center is his natural position but due to an abundance of centermen, he hasn’t played there much all of last year or this. But, just like last game, he dropped a no-look pass to Sanford on the goal that was a thing of beauty.

The Blues had lots of other excellent scoring chances but Rittich was stellar in the period.

SECOND PERIOD

The Blues didn’t do much to slow Calgary down. They put 17 shots on net in the middle frame but still couldn’t find a way to solve Jordan Binnington. They hit the post a couple of times and that was as close as they would come to getting a goal through the first 40 minutes.

The Flames did manage to get some sustained pressure in the offensive zone about six minutes into the second, but a turnover at the blue line allowed Oskar Sundqvist to get behind them all for a clear breakaway. His shot hit the cuff of Rittich’s glove and toppled over it and into the net to give the Blues a 2-0 lead.

BIG HIT

Possibly the biggest hit for the Blues thus far this season came shortly after. Vince Dunn stepped up into Andrew Mangiapane and laid a wallop on him.

Zac Rinaldo came to his teammate’s defense and was called for roughing. The Blues first powerplay didn’t last long. David Perron‘s one-timer beat Rittich and it was 3-0 at the 9:42 mark of the period.

The last half of the second period was cluttered with penalties. St. Louis had a too-many-men call. Alex Pietrangelo was whistled for interference and Ivan Barbashev for holding, which gave Calgary a 5 on 3 momentarily. Calgary’s Elia Lindholm returned the favor just four seconds into the 5 on 3 by tripping Ryan O’Reilly and evening things out a little. None of it mattered as time ran out without any more scoring, despite the advantages.

Despite being outshot 33-24 through the first two periods, the Blues were up 3-0. If it weren’t for Rittich, they’d be up 5 or 6 to nothing. And if not for Binnington, it might be 3-3 or 5-4. Both goalies made a lot of excellent saves.

THIRD PERIOD

As strong as the goaltenders were inside the pipes, Rittich is not known for his play outside them. Just 2:31 into the third period Rittich misplayed the puck behind the net.  Sanford and Thomas won the scrum and the puck ended up in front of the goal much sooner than the goalie and Sundqvist was there to put his second goal of the game in the net.

To seal the deal Thomas and Sanford assisted again on a Vince Dunn goal that made it 5-0.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Jordan Binnington stopped all 40 Calgary shots for his first shutout of the season and the sixth of his career. He made it look easy tonight.

Zach Sanford notched four points (1G,3A) for the first time in his NHL career. The line of Thomas (3A), Sanford, and Sundqvist (2G) had 9 points on the night and seem to be clicking well. I think the biggest reasons for it are Sunny’s hustle and hard work along with Thomas’ ability to make plays.

The Blues seem to have found something in the last two games and will host the Nashville Predators on Saturday before heading out on a tough road test next week with games in Nashville, Tampa, and Dallas, followed by a home game with the Penguins next Saturday to close out the month.

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