PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
St. Louis, 18-5-6, 1st place in Central Division @ Pittsburgh, 14-9-4, 5th place in Metropolitan Division
St. Louis wraps up a two-game road trip in Pittsburgh tonight, riding a four-game winning streak. The Penguins have dropped their last 2 -at Columbus Friday night and at St. Louis Saturday night- both by the score of 5-2.
The Blues aren’t the only team that’s been bitten hard by the injury bug. Pittsburgh is down 8 of their regular starters. Among the wounded is their captain, Sidney Crosby, defensive stalwart Bryan Dumoulin, and the team learned yesterday they would be without winger Patric Hornqvist “longer-term” with a lower-body injury.
With a win or overtime loss, the Blues would tie their longest road point streak in franchise history at 11 games. The original record was set between January and March of 2000.
The Penguins outshot the Blues 15-9 in the 1st, and the first of those 15 made it 1-0 Pittsburgh. Just 39 seconds into the game, Marcus Pettersson threw the puck toward the net from the top of the right circle. Teddy Blueger was parked out front and deflected the puck past Jordan Binnington high glove side.
The Pens controlled play the first 7 minutes, outshooting the Blues 8-0, with extended o-zone time. At 6:30 of the period, Dominik Kahun nearly made it 2-0. Kahun quickly gathered up his rebound after a shot on the right side and skated around the net for a wraparound attempt. The puck slid atop the goal line but somehow stayed out before the Blues were able to clear it away.
A little over 8 minutes in, Jake Guentzel hooked Ivan Barbashev in front of the Pittsburgh net, and the power play gave the Blues some momentum. They kept the puck in the offensive zone for the majority of the power play and tallied three shots, but could not get the puck past Tristan Jarry. After starting the period being outshot 8-0, the Blues had the next seven shots on goal.
The period would end with the Pens holding the 1-0 lead, and doing an excellent job defensively. They never let the Blues get set up in their zone and did an outstanding job clogging passing lanes.
In a game of momentum shifts, the Blues came out firing at the beginning of the 2nd. Brayden Schenn nearly tied it up when he was able to skate right out in front of Jarry. He carried the puck across the crease and tried to stuff it in under Jarry but was denied by the right pad. The pressure continued, however, causing Pittsburgh to take another penalty when Joseph Blandisi headed to the box for tripping, but the Blues were unable to take advantage.
One of the better St. Louis chances came shortly after the power play. Justin Faulk sent a great pass to Robert Thomas in the slot for a one-timer, but Jarry stopped that, as well as Zach Sanford‘s rebound attempt.
St. Louis gave the Penguins 2 power plays in the middle of the period, but each time the penalty kill stood tall. The Pens’ best chance was swept away when Ivan Barbashev assisted Binnington by clearing a loose puck out of the crease.
A few minutes later, Colton Parayko came to Binnington’s aid as well when he slid into the crease to block Dominik Simon’s point-blank shot on a pass from Evgeni Malkin. Simon briefly raised his hands in the air, thinking he had a goal, but the score remained 1-0. Simon was stymied on 3 grade A chances throughout the game.
Pittsburgh Strikes Late
After the Pens killed a St. Louis power play, they cranked up the pressure in the last 2 minutes of the period. They peppered Binnington with 3 or 4 shots and also hit a post.
It seemed like St. Louis would survive the flurry and head into the 3rd still down by 1, but Justin Faulk had his pocket picked behind the Blues’ net, and Pittsburgh was able to maintain the zone. Moments later, Jared McCann sent a pass in front of the net where rookie Stefan Noesen had taken up shop. Noesen was able to bat the puck out of the air, control it in front, and slip it by Binnington to make it 2-0.
Noesen was just called up to the big club Monday, scoring his first NHL goal in his first game. The goal came with only 40 seconds left in the period and took away whatever momentum the Blues had gained in their strong 2nd period.
St. Louis would start the 3rd with 1:49 seconds of power play, but once again, Pittsburgh was able to kill it off, allowing the Blues just one shot.
With nearly 5 minutes gone, Tyler Bozak made a diving attempt to keep the puck in the offensive zone, but Sam Lafferty was able to come up with the puck and sent a pass to a streaking Alex Galchenyuk. Galchenyuk broke free and sent a shot under Binnington’s right arm to make it 3-0.
It looked like the Blues had pulled to within 3-1 with 5:45 left, but the goal was waved off for goalie interference when Jaden Schwartz was pushed into the crease and collided with Jarry. Coach Berube challenged the play, but the call was upheld, giving Pittsburgh another power play for a lost challenge. The Blues killed it off but were not able to generate any offense in the last three and a half minutes.
The Blues’ 4 game win streak and 11 game road point streak both came to an end.
Pittsburgh scored just 39 seconds into the game, and the Blues were on their heels a bit in the first period. They picked up the pace and had a much better 2nd, but overall, Pittsburgh did a great job defensively. They never allowed the Blues to set up, seemed to get a stick into every passing lane, and when the Blues did get a decent chance, Tristan Jarry was there every time. Pittsburgh’s backup goalie was the star of the game, stopping all 28 shots.
The Blues suffered their 2nd shutout of the season and first since their last road loss at Boston October 26th.
The Blues return home and will try to start another winning streak against Toronto Saturday night at Enterprise Center. St. Louis defeated the Maple Leafs in Toronto 3-2 in their only other meeting back on October 7th.