Blues Over Flames in Shootout

CONDENSED REPORT

Zach Sanford, David Perron and Ryan O’Reilly battle in front of the net. (Gerry Thomas/NHL via Getty Images)

The Blues continued their Western Canada road trip on Tuesday night in Calgary with a 5-4 shootout win over the Flames. Goals by Steen, Perron, Schwartz, and Sanford in regulation were enough to force overtime. Perron and O’Reilly scored in the shootout while Binnington shut the door on Monahan and Tkachuk on the other end.

This game was a lot of up-and-down, end-to-end hockey and not typical of the Blues style of play. They gave Calgary a lot of space in the first two periods and found themselves down 4-3 after the first 40 minutes.

It looked like the Blues finally found their stride in the third period. They clamped down and played some defense and held the Flames to just 7 shots on goal in the final 20 minutes.

A holding penalty on Perron in the overtime could have been the dagger, but the Blues killed off the penalty to force the shootout.

Jordan Binnington got the win. Sammy Blais returned to the lineup after missing 28 games with a wrist injury. Alexander Steen left the game with a lower-body injury and did not finish.

FIRST PERIOD

Coming on for a line change, Alexander Steen picked off the puck at center ice early in the first period. He found Robert Thomas all the way across the ice streaking down the right boards. Thomas then returned the puck back through traffic and onto the stick of Steen in the left faceoff circle. The wily veteran poked it past Cam Talbot to give the Blues a 1-0 lead at the 5:45 mark.

Zach Sanford was called for delay of game when an odd deflection went up and over the glass at the 9:50 mark. It only took Calgary 48 seconds to capitalize when Matthew Tkachuk whiffed on a shot from the point. The puck had an odd flight that fooled Jordan Binnington and the game was knotted at 1-1.

Ryan O’Reilly’s holding penalty at 15:33 gave the Flames another power play and this time they needed just 10 seconds to score. Sean Monahan made it look easy from a nice cozy spot in the high slot and Binnington didn’t have a chance. It was 2-1 Calgary and they were 2 for 2 on the power play.

The Blues fought back quickly and it looked like Craig Berube had stressed ‘net-front presence’ in his game plan. David Perron crashed the net and poked home a rebound off a Sanford shot. Tie game at 2-2.

Calgary’s only penalty came in the final minute of the period. Travis Hamonic cross-checked Jordan Kyrou. Not to be outdone with quick scoring on the power play, the Blues just needed 8 seconds to find the back of the net. Brayden Schenn found Jaden Schwartz in front of the net for a nice bang-bang play to give the Blues a 3-2 lead to end the opening period.

SECOND PERIOD

The scoring in the middle frame all came from Calgary. Goals by Monahan and Mark Jankowski put the Flames up 4-3. After two periods it was even up and down the stat sheet with Calgary outshooting St. Louis 20-19. Faceoffs were dead even. But the scoreboard favored the Flames.

The Blues hit the goalpost twice, and had some scoring chances but couldn’t find an opening. On the other end of the ice, Binnington made some nice saves but he also got ran into a couple of times as things got loose and a bit chippy.

The game was end to end and didn’t look like a typical Blues game. The defense was loose and non-existent at times. They weren’t hitting and were allowing too much open ice for the quick Flames team to operate within. They allowed too many odd-man rushes and breakaways.

THIRD PERIOD

The Blues finally got to their style of play in the final 20 minutes. They put 13 shots on goal in the period and held Calgary to just 7.

Zach Sanford evened things up with his 6th goal of the season in the first minute of the period. Playing on the O’Reilly/Perron line, Sanford has 5 points in his last three games with 2 goals and 3 assists. He also had 5 hits in this game and has 12 in his last three. The unassuming Sanford may fly under the radar a bit, but lately he’s taking advantage of the position he finds himself in.

Perron seemed to have given the Blues the lead a couple of minutes later, but a coach’s challenge revealed O’Reilly was offside on the play. The game would go to overtime, and an eventual shootout before the Blues finished things off.

WRAP-UP

Steen was playing in his 998th NHL game and was set to play his 1000th in Winnipeg on Saturday. It seemed like a fitting place for him to record his 1000th skate as it’s the town where his dad spent his whole career, and the town where Alex was born. It remains to be seen if he will be available for the rest of this road trip, of if his milestone game will have to wait until home ice in front of the St. Louis fans. (That wouldn’t be so bad either)

Binnington didn’t have a lot of support in this one. The Blues have gotten away from their game a bit. Calgary’s goals weren’t the result of him giving up soft ones. The Flames had a lot of point-blank chances due to a lack of coverage on the part of the Blues defense.

Calgary is a young, fast, in-your-face type of team and things got a little chippy late in this one. Binnington absorbed contact a couple of times by an aggressive Flames player before offering some pushback of his own to let them know he had just about had enough. It’s good to see some grit from your goaltender.

Sammy Blais returned to the lineup and skated with Jacob De La Rose and Ivan Barbashev. Oskar Sundqvist got the night off. Depending on Steen’s health, it may have been perfect timing to get Blais back. It’s amazing the Blues still sit in first place in the West with all the injuries they’ve had.

Brayden Schenn has had some tough luck lately. This game was no different. He hit the pipe and crossbar in this game and was robbed more than once by Talbot. He’ll keep fighting and will breakthrough soon.

The line of Robert Thomas, Tyler Bozak, and Steen was humming again tonight. Thomas certainly is a wizard with the puck on his stick and seems to be much more productive when he is at center. He’s a lot of fun to watch and he’s only 20. Imagine the years ahead.

The Blues are in Edmonton on Friday for the third of their 4-game trip. They will wrap up in Winnipeg on Saturday.

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