Jeff Curry, USA TODAY Sports
Enterprise Center – St. Louis, Missouri
Arizona, 30-25-8, tied for 4th in the Pacific Division at St. Louis, 33-17-10, tied for 1st in the Central Division
St. Louis has been struggling of late, having won just 2 of their last 9 games. Jordan Binnington and the rest of the Blues did pitch a shutout against New Jersey Tuesday night, and hope to build on that momentum and get back to their winning ways.
The Coyotes, meanwhile, are 3 and 3 in their last 6 games and are coming off a loss last night to the Stars. Arizona has won the previous 2 meetings against the Blues this season, a 3-2 shootout victory in St. Louis in mid November, and a 3-1 win in Arizona back on New Year’s Eve. The Coyotes currently hold the 2nd wild card spot, 1 point ahead of Winnipeg.
New Blues defenseman Marco Scandella will make his debut tonight. St. Louis acquired him from Montreal in the hopes of offsetting the loss of Jay Bouwmeester. Blues’ GM Doug Armstrong sent the Canadiens a 2nd round pick and a conditional 4th round pick for the sturdy blue liner.
St. Louis had an early power play when Lawson Crouse tripped Robert Thomas behind the Arizona net, but the Blues could not get set up for any length of time and never really threatened. About 5 minutes in, newcomer Marco Scandella nearly tallied his first assist with the Blues, but Antti Raanta denied Jordan Kyrou with a shoulder save. This would become a recurring theme.
The Blues controlled play for the first 8 minutes, but then had consecutive penalties on Justin Faulk and Oskar Sundqvist resulting in a 5 on 3 for the Coyotes. Despite the 2 man advantage, Arizona was unable to cash in, with Binnington making a solid save on a tip by Christian Dvorak as the 2nd power play expired.
Taylor Hall broke in all alone with 1:20 left, but Binnington held his ground. Overall the Blues had more offensive zone time and the better of the play, but the 1st ended in a scoreless tie. The Blues outshot the Coyotes 9-7.
In a continuation of a recent theme, it appears the Blues have run into another superhuman goalie. The game remains scoreless after the 2nd period despite numerous grade-A chances by the Blues. Antti Raanta stopped 19 shots in the period, and when he wasn’t in position to make the save, he got a little help from Alex Goligoski who blocked Brayden Schenn’s attempt at a wide open net.
At 8:54 of the period Jordan Oesterle went off for a cross check and it appeared the Blues had finally broken through on a David Perron one-timer. Arizona challenged the play for, and replay clearly showed Perron was offside on the play. Raanta made a save on a Colton Parayko one-timer after play resumed, and later stopped Kyrou, who made a brilliant play stick handling by 3 Coyotes and adding a toe drag before sending a hard wrister on net.
Arizona had a power play to end the period when Alex Pietrangelo went to the box for tripping, but the Blues did a great job on the penalty kill, giving up no time, space or shots. St. Louis dominated the 2nd period but the game was still scoreless after 2.
The period started with Binnington making a great save on a Taylor Hall spinning backhand. Aside from their goalie Raanta, Hall was seemingly the only other Coyote who came to play. The Blues were relentless, as if they were on the power play the entire 2nd and 3rd period. Arizona did not belong on the same ice as St. Louis, but the Blues still could not solve Raanta.
Antti Raanta played absolutely out of his mind. It was beginning to look like the Blues may suffer another hard luck loss, but Ryan O’Reilly FINALLY solved Raanta with a forehand/backhand off a pass from Schenn. The only goal of the game came at 12:00 of the 3rd with Parayko getting the secondary assist.
After the game Antti Raanta was given the 2nd star, but that was a gross miscarriage of justice. He was incredible and nearly stole the 2 points, which would have been an extremely disheartening loss after the way the Blues played.
Summary and Notes
The one and only goal of the game was O’Reilly’s 11th of the season and his first in 8 games.
Marco Scandella was impressive in his debut. He thwarted a Taylor Hall breakaway early in the 3rd period, blocked a shot at the side of the Blues net later in the 3rd and played a solid, all around game.
The 1-0 win was the 2nd consecutive shutout for Jordan Binnington and his 3rd of the year. He only faced 14 shots, but if he would have let one in the Coyotes may have stole the game.
The victory made it 2 in a row for the Blues, the first time they accomplished that feat since the middle of January.
St. Louis outshot the Coyotes 46-14 for the game and 35-7 after the 1st period.
The Blues have a huge game on the road in Dallas tomorrow night, with the Stars lurking just 2 points back of the Blues for 1st place in the Western Conference.