Jordan Kyrou attempts a wrap-around on Linus Ullmark of Buffalo. (Bill Wippert/NHL via Getty Images)
KeyBank Center- Buffalo, NY
St. Louis, 18-7-6, 1st in Central Division @ Buffalo, 14-11-6, 3rd in Atlantic Division
With the help of San Antonio call ups Jordan Kyrou and Austin Poganski, St. Louis looks to snap its two-game losing streak in Buffalo. This will be Kyrou’s season debut and Poganski’s first-ever NHL game. Zach Sanford is the latest Blue to wind up on the injury report. He suffered an upper-body injury against Toronto Saturday night, necessitating Kyrou’s season debut and Poganski’s NHL debut.
Buffalo is coming off back to back road overtime games, losing to Vancouver Saturday but knocking off Edmonton Sunday 3-2.
Jake Allen is in goal for the Blues tonight, while Linus Ullmark gets the start between the pipes for Buffalo.
When the Blues have struggled this season, it’s often because they get off to a slow start and fall behind. That’s exactly what happened early in the 1st. Brandon Montour flipped the puck high out of the Buffalo zone to Sam Reinhart along the left boards. Reinhart sent the puck on goal, and it deflected off Victor Olofsson and past Jake Allen just 18 seconds in.
It didn’t take long for the Blues to counter. Troy Brouwer netted his first goal in his return trip to the Blues on a great feed from Ivan Barbashev. Barbashev beat the Sabres defender to the puck along the boards deep in the Buffalo zone and had time for one quick look over his shoulder- time enough to see Brouwer alone out front. Brower’s quick shot beat Linus Ullmark glove side at 3:37, and it was 1-1.
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) December 11, 2019
Each team had one power play in the period, but neither team was able to take advantage. The Blues’ power play was entirely ineffective, with no shots and no zone time. For the period, the Blues had very little offensive zone time and could not sustain any pressure on the forecheck. They were chasing the puck and could not get into any rhythm on offense.
The 1st period came to a close with Buffalo having the better of the play by a slim margin. They had more scoring chances and outshot the Blues 11-9.
The Blues came out in the 2nd with much more jump and puck control. Jordan Kyrou had his 2nd quality chance of the game a minute and a half in, but he couldn’t get quite enough hook on his wraparound attempt. Brayden Schenn had a great chance on the rebound, but a Buffalo stick swiped the puck out of danger.
Forty-five seconds later, Ivan Barbashev found himself open in the right circle, but his shot hit the post. This would be the first of 3 posts hit by the Blues in the period. Brayden Schenn hit the same post 3 minutes after Barbashev did, from just about the same spot.
At 8:23 of the period, Buffalo captain Jack Eichel and Tyler Bozak got tangled up. Bozak fell to the ice and successfully lobbied the officials for a penalty. It was during the penalty that the Blues hit the post yet again. David Perron sent a hard shot toward Ullmark that was deflected off the right post by Jaden Schwartz.
The Blues continued to pressure on the power play, but Ullmark made outstanding saves on Perron and Schenn. Halfway through the 2nd period, Schenn could have had a hat trick with a little luck, but a post, a Buffalo stick, and Ullmark’s glove stopped all 3 of his chances.
Late 2nd Momentum Shift
As much as the Blues dominated the first 15 minutes of the 2nd, the last 5 minutes belonged to Buffalo. The Sabres kept the Blues hemmed in with constant o-zone pressure and cycling, which eventually led to their 2nd power play of the game when Robert Bortuzzo went off for tripping.
The Sabres pressed hard on their power play, but Jake Allen made a couple of excellent saves to keep the score tied. But with the period winding down, Buffalo defensemen Zach Bogosian kept the puck in the zone just in front of the blue line. Bogosian sent a hard wrister off the boards to the left of Allen that caromed right in front to Johan Larsson. Allen made a quick move to his right, but Larsson’s shot banked in off Allen’s pads. It was 2-1 Sabres with just 8 seconds left in the period.
A period in which the Blues dominated for the first 15 minutes ended with them going to the locker room down a goal.
The 3rd got off to a promising start when Alex Pietrangelo scored his 100th career goal to tie the game at two a little under 4 minutes in. David Perron made a nifty move to skate into the slot and send a backhand pass to the Blues’ captain, who one-timed it past Ullmark.
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) December 11, 2019
Eichel Extends Points Streak- Pietrangelo Shaken Up
It didn’t take long for Buffalo to regain the lead. Just 2 minutes after the Blues tied the game, Jack Eichel made it 3-2. Once again, the Sabres had the Blues hemmed in a bit, and as Pietrangelo was trying to chase down the puck, he and Robert Thomas collided. Petro fell to the ice hard and slammed into the post.
There was a breakdown on defense for the Blues, as Eichel was allowed to control the puck at the side of the net and skate right out in front. Eichel’s hard wrister beat Allen high over his left shoulder. Eichel’s goal extended his points streak to 14 games.
Vince Dunn was late on the play, but Eichel may have been allowed to camp out in front partly due to Pietrangelo’s injury. Immediately after the goal, Pietrangelo skated off the ice and went back to the locker room, presumably shaken from his hard fall. Luckily for St. Louis, he returned to the ice 4 minutes later and was not added to the Blues’ growing injury list.
St. Louis had two great chances to tie the game later in the period, but Ullmark robbed Jaden Schwartz with 13 minutes left. The Blues’ last good chance came with Allen pulled and a minute to go. Brayden Schenn sent an excellent cross-ice pass through the crease to a wide-open David Perron. Perron one-timed the puck toward the net, but Ullmark was there to make the stop and stifle the last chance for the Blues.
In the final minute, the Sabres would put the game away with two empty-net goals, the first by Zemgus Girgenson, and with 1.2 seconds left, Jack Eichel scored his 2nd goal on the night to make the final score 5-2.
Summary and Notes
The Blues may have deserved a better fate. They dominated the first 15 minutes of the 2nd period, hitting three posts, and also carried the play for the majority of the 3rd. Linus Ullmark and his posts were the difference on this night.
Jordan Kyrou had two good scoring chances, one hard shot from the left circle off a turnover, and a wrap-around attempt, but he also made a couple of questionable decisions with the puck in his zone. Austin Poganski was not much of a factor in his NHL debut, but he skated hard and avoided mistakes.
Brayden Schenn and David Perron were all over the ice, either one or both of them easily could have scored 2 or 3 goals.
Although he had some early troubles with rebound control, Jake Allen was solid again in net, stopping 30 of 33 shots.
The Blues return home, hoping to stop their three-game losing streak. They’ll host the Vegas Golden Knights Thursday evening at Enterprise Center.