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American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
St. Louis, 34-17-10, 1st place Central Division at Dallas, 35-19-6, 2nd place Central Division
The Blues have won 2 in a row, both by shutout, and have been displaying the type of play that won them the Stanley Cup last season. Wins over New Jersey and Arizona were characterized by relentless forechecking and cycling the puck inside the opponent’s offensive zone. The Blues were absolutely dominant Thursday night in their 1-0 shutout of the Coyotes and will need more of that style of play against the hard charging Stars.
Dallas has won 5 of their last 6 games and have risen up the standings. Between their solid play lately and the Blues’ recent funk, they are now just 2 points behind St. Louis for 1st place in the Western Conference.
The last time the Blues and Stars met was February 8th, when the Blues blew a 2-0 lead and eventually fell 3-2 when Roope Hintz netted the game winner late in the 3rd.
Marco Scandella made a successful debut Thursday night for the Blues, with solid play both offensively and defensively. The Blues will need him to play well again as Alex Pietrangelo is out with an illness.
St. Louis picked up where they left off Thursday night, controlling play in the 1st and taking a 2-0 lead on goals by Alexander Steen and David Perron.
The first goal came at 5:48 of the period, when a flurry of Blues activity in front of Ben Bishop led to the puck being sent back to the blue line for Colton Parayko. Parayko fired a shot from out high, and Jordan Kyrou gathered in the rebound, skated behind the net and sent a pass out front to Steen. Steen’s first shot was stopped by Bishop but Steen swiped his own rebound under the Dallas goalie to give the Blues a 1-0 lead.
Parayko assisted on the 2nd Blues goal as well, once again firing the puck on net from out near the blue line. Bishop made the initial save, but Robert Thomas got a piece of the puck near the crease and David Perron was in the right place at the right time, mucking it up in front of the net and beating Bishop inside the left post to make it 2-0.
Bodies flying in First
The period featured intense physical play, hard hits delivered by both sides. Zach Sanford nailed Jamie Benn against the boards early in the period, and Benn was visibly shaken as he skated off the ice. Later in the period Sammy Blais took aim at Esa Lindell, slamming him into the boards. With a couple minutes left in the 1st, Oskar Sundqvist took a hard hit against the boards that may have rung his bell a bit.
Jake Allen made sure the Blues maintained the momentum going into the first intermission when he stopped Esa Lindell on a shorthanded breakaway with about a minute left in the period. The Blues outshot the Stars 10-6 and took a 2-0 lead into the 2nd.
With a 2-0 lead the Blues kept their foot on the gas. A little over 2 minutes into the period Robert Thomas stole the puck after Dallas entered the zone. Thomas found Jordan Kyrou streaking down the ice. The Blues’ rookie broke to the middle to get to his forehand and fired a wicked wrist shot that beat Bishop high blocker side. Kyrou’s 3rd goal of the season made it 3-0 Blues.
Just over 2 minutes later it was Jaden Schwartz’s turn. Once again the Blues stood firm at their blue line and intercepted a Dallas pass. Schwartz skated the puck out and found Ryan O’Reilly along the left boards. O’Reilly sent a long, cross ice pass back to Schwartz who beat Bishop high blocker side. Brayden Schenn had the secondary assist on Schwartz’s 20th goal of the season.
Bishop allowed 4 goals on 13 shots, and Schwartz’s goal would end Bishop’s night when Stars’ coach Rick Bowness pulled him for backup Anton Khudobin.
St. Louis did not rest on the 4 goal lead, continuing to pressure and cycle the puck, wearing the Stars down. St. Louis did get a bit loose near the end of the period and allowed a couple of Dallas power plays, but the Blues’ kill was so good that they not only frustrated the Stars, but the fans as well. A smattering of boos rained down from the stands near the end of the period as the Blues once again cleared the puck out of their zone.
Jake Allen was not called upon a lot, he faced just 13 shots, but he made the saves when needed, just as Jordan Binnington did Thursday night. Allen made a great blocker save on Andrew Cogliano on a Stars’ power play with 30 seconds left in the period.
The Stars started the 3rd with 1:30 left over on their power play, and this time they applied some pressure. Jake Allen made 2 great saves with his right pad, the first on Joe Pavelski and the 2nd on Andrew Cogliano. St. Louis killed the penalty however, and once they did they went back to pressuring.
O’Reilly poked a puck towards Schwartz from the front of the net to the right boards, and Schwartz found Parayko wide open in the slot. Parayko’s rocket beat Khudobin stick side to make it 5-0 at 2:27 of the 3rd.
All that was left was to see if Jake Allen and the defense could preserve the shutout, but the Stars finally broke through late in the 3rd when Dallas defenseman Jamie Oleksiak fired from the blue line. The puck appeared to graze off Parayko and got past Allen glove side. The goal ended the Blues’ combined shutout streak at 178 minutes and 39 seconds. The last goal scored against the Blues before Oleksiak’s was the Kyle Turris game winner late in the 3rd period in Nashville Sunday.
Summary and Notes:
The Blues’ victory extends their lead over the Stars to 4 points in the Central Division. Once again the Blues impressed with their overall D, forecheck and cycling the puck in a very physical game.
The high flying Stars mustered only 19 shots on the Blues, made all the more impressive considering Pietrangelo was out with an illness. Marco Scandella once again impressed with his all around good play.
Tyler Bozak missed the game with a lower body injury.
Vladimir Tarasenko travelled and skated with the team Friday and is reportedly recovering well from shoulder surgery.
The Blues end their short, 2 game road trip in Minnesota Sunday night when they take on the Wild at 7:30pm ET.