Blues forward Ivan Barbashev (49) celebrates his first goal against the New Jersey Devils. (Photo courtesy: Billy Hurst, AP Photo)
ST. LOUIS – After losing 5 straight games, the St. Louis Blues (33-17-10) finally got a bounceback win against the New Jersey Devils (22-27-10) by a final of 3-0. Ivan Barbashev pocketed two goals and Jordan Binnington got his second shutout on the season, making 17 saves.
Louis Domingue was the star of the show in the first period, making save after incredible save on the Blues forwards. New Jersey Devil P.K. Subban and co. took offense to Zach Sanford’s hit on Jack Hughes, putting on an intense amount of pressure. Neither team could score in the first thanks to Domingue’s theatrics, but Ivan Barbashev scored his 8th of the season in the second period to give the Blues a 1-0 lead.
The Blues penalty kill was superb throughout the night after recently struggling in their last few games. Barbashev’s goal was the lone score after two periods, despite the Blues putting 24 shots on net through two periods.
Barbashev scored again in the first five minutes of the third to double St. Louis’ lead, and Jaden Schwartz scored his second goal in three games less than ten minutes later. The Blues kept Jordan Binnington’s job easy through the entire night, as he made 17 saves to post his second shutout of the season. The Blues won their first game in two weeks by a final of 3-0, and retaking the clear lead of the Central Division.
“It’s been a tough stretch the last, what, 12 games, but you could see our last couple games were really good and we were building,” Blues forward Ivan Barbashev said after the game. “Today, we finally got the win, and it feels good.”
St. Louis hosts the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday at 7pm CT, looking to start a new winning streak. New Jersey heads home to host the San Jose Sharks.
The Blues started with a few costly turnovers early in the first period, but Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington came ready to play after losing his edge the past few starts. The Blues turned it around after the first 5 minutes and started playing well in front of him, but one other player also came ready – Louis Domingue. He made spectacular saves and kept his team perfect through the first period.
Zach Sanford continued his heavy, physical play and even registered a few great chances. While trying to maintain the puck at center ice he landed a heavy check on last year’s 1st overall pick Jack Hughes, prompting the ire of defenseman P.K. Subban, among others. The Blues and Devils skated off scoreless, with St. Louis outshooting New Jersey 13-6.
The Blues didn’t let up after a well-fought first period couldn’t produce a goal, registering even more high-danger scoring chances on Domingue who robbed both forwards and defenseman alike. The defense contributed heavily to the offensive pushes, as Carl Gunnarsson left his point to move the puck behind Domingue’s net. David Perron forced the puck back up to the point, and Gunnarsson fed Ivan Barbashev in the slot, where he whipped one just above Domingue’s blocker.
Barbashev’s 8th of the year gave the Blues the lead and broke the ice halfway through the game. After finally exposing a crack in the goaltender, the Blues wouldn’t let, registering more and more scoring chances and attempts.
The penalty kill was also excellent tonight, as the Blues forced penalties on them into 4-on-4 situations and even killed off a Robert Thomas double-minor. After the second period, Barbashev’s goal from Gunnarsson was the lone tally, as the Blues headed up into the third. St. Louis outshot New Jersey 24-11 through two.
With a one-goal lead heading into the final frame, the Blues knew they had to close this one off strong. Sammy Blais moved the puck into the zone on the near side and dropped it off for Ivan Barbashev, who fed it right back to him. They got P.K. Subban to drop back and lure Nico Hischier to Blais, as he quickly sent it back to Barbashev in the slot, where he scored in the same fashion as the last goal.
Barbashev’s second of the night doubled the Blues lead with 15 minutes left in the third. He continued to be the best player on the ice, making great plays with the 4th line and staying fast and physical in all three zones. The Blues puck possession put them over the top against the Devils, and it boiled over again in the final 5 minutes.
Brayden Schenn cross-dumped the puck in for Ryan O’Reilly, who worked for the puck in the near corner to feed it to Schenn in front of Domingue. Schenn played the puck back to Jaden Schwartz, who roofed it perfectly in the top corner.
Schwartz scored his second goal in three games, after ending a 6-game goal drought. The 3-goal lead would be all she wrote for New Jersey as St. Louis ended the 5-game winless streak in a 3-0 shutout over the Devils. Jordan Binnington earned his 2nd shutout of the year, making 17 saves. Louis Domingue was phenomenal despite allowing three goals, making 36 saves.
After a 2-7-3 stretch of games dating back to January 15, the 3-0 win was a breath of relief and a point to build on as the Blues continue to race for the Central Division lead.
“We’ve been working, we didn’t lose our composure and we stayed with it and we believed in ourselves,” Jordan Binnington commented after the win. “The boys were putting a lot of pucks to the net, so it was only a matter of time before they started bouncing our way and hopefully there’s more to come. It’s nice to be back in the win column.”
Binnington also commented on the close battle in Nashville after the back-to-back losses against the Predators. “It was cool; it was my first game in Nashville. We were close, but didn’t get the win. It’s good for this team to kinda go through that and learn and grow and stay composed, experiencing whatever comes at us and keep moving forward.”
The Blues host the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday at 7pm CT, where they can double a 2-point lead to four before facing the Dallas Stars on Friday.
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