Rangers forward Julien Gauthier (12) tries to work the puck around diving Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo (41). (Photo courtesy: Al Bello, Getty Images)
The Stage: Madison Square Garden, NY
St. Louis, 39-17-10, 1st place in the Central Division at New York Rangers, 35-26-4, 7th place in the Metropolitan Division
The red-hot Blues look to take a bite out of the Big Apple as they battle the Rangers in Madison Square Garden. The Blues have won 7 straight, the 3rd time they’ve accomplished that feat this season.
New York lost both games of a home and home against the Flyers over the weekend, yet have won 9 of 12 overall. They will be without dynamic forward Chris Kreider due to a fractured foot suffered in Philadelphia Friday night. Despite all the rumors at the trade deadline, Kreider remained with the Rangers and will be sorely missed as they battle for points in a tightly contested Eastern Conference. The Rangers currently sit 4 points back of the 2nd wild card spot.
NEW YORK – It was an intense playoff-atmosphere game in Madison Square Garden as the St. Louis Blues (40-17-10) defeated the New York Rangers (35-27-4). It was the Blues’ 1900th win in franchise history as they continued to hold a 3-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche with the win. The Rangers got on the board first on the powerplay when Mika Zibenejad got away from both Blues defenders in the first period, scoring in tight on Jordan Binnington. He stayed perfect through the remainder of the game, making some huge saves.
His great bounceback play got St. Louis to get some more chances on net in a largely fluid game, with a near-record-low number of whistles. On the Blues powerplay, Colton Parayko had a pass bounce right to his stick, and he launched a wrist shot past Alexander Georgiev. Both teams played hard in all three zones for the remainder of the game, with neither team really dominating play for the whole 60 minutes.
Halfway through the third period, Brayden Schenn made a seemingly harmless play behind the net and nailed a wraparound on Georgiev to give the Blues the lead. St. Louis managed to shut it down for the remainder of the game, and Jordan Binnington made some great last-minute saves to help seure the Blues win. Ryan O’Reilly got an assist in his 800th career game on Jaden Schwartz’s empty net goal, which sealed the deal in the Big Apple, 3-1.
Jordan Binnington continued his perfect play with his 30th win of the season, making 25 saves to Georgiev’s 19. The Blues can go for a season-high 9 straight wins on Friday against the New Jersey Devils at 6pm CT. The Rangers continue the homestand Thursday against the Washington Capitals.
It was a tight checking affair in the 1st, and neither team was able to create sustained pressure or establish any flow. The Blues outshot the Rangers 4-0 through the first 8 minutes, but halfway through the period New York generated their first sustained pressure in the Blues’ zone. Brendan Smith broke free and skated right in on Jordan Binnington. It took a great right pad save from Binnington to keep the game scoreless, but moments later Robert Bortuzzo tripped Smith to give the Rangers their first power play.
Early on the power play, Pavel Buchnevich sent a quick pass from behind the Blues’ net to Ryan Strome in the right circle. Strome found Mika Zibanejad in the slot, where Zibanejad one-timed the puck past Binnington. At 12:26 of the first it was 1-0 New York.
With 53 seconds left in the period, Jacob de la Rose went to the box on a questionable interference call, but the Blues killed off the first half of the penalty and went to the locker room down 1-0 after the 1st. The Rangers would have another 1:07 on the power play to start the 2nd.
The Blues were able to kill the last of the Rangers power play, and had a very good chance shorthanded when Ryan O’Reilly and Jaden Schwartz broke in on a 2-on-1. O’Reilly sent the puck past the defender, but Schwartz’s one time attempt went just wide on the glove side.
A minute later St. Louis had their own power play. Ryan Strome slashed Jaden Schwartz to give the Blues the man advantage. After tremendous pressure from the Blues’ 1st unit, the 2nd unit got it done. Robert Thomas attempted to get a pass to Tyler Bozak in the slot, but the puck bounced around and popped out of a scrum to Colton Parayko. Parayko stepped into it and sent a rifle shot past Alexander Georgiev, beating him under his arm stick side. It was 1-1 at 2:35 of the first.
The rest of the period was similar to the first, tight checking with not a whole lot of room for either team. The pace did pick up however, and bodies were flying around and tensions were mounting.
At the end of 2 the game was pretty even. Each team had scored a power play goal and the Blues were outshooting the Rangers 16-14.
Jordan Binnington had to be sharp early in the 3rd, as Kaapo Kakko ad Brendan Smith both took point blank shots on the Blues’ netminder. The Rangers were the aggressors early in the period, but Jaden Schwartz chased the puck down on the left boards in the New York zone and slid a pass back to Schenn who had snuck behind the Rangers’ goal.
Schenn’s wrap around attempt slid behind Georgiev and the puck banked off the right skate of the Rangers’ goalie to give the Blues a 2-1 lead. It was the 5th game in a row that Schenn had scored a goal and his 25th of the season. Parayko had the secondary assist on the play.
The teams traded a few scoring chances in the remainder of the period, including a 3-on-1 for the Blues that was thwarted by a sliding Rangers defenseman. New York’s biggest threat to tie the game came inside the last 20 seconds when a shot was fired toward Binnington through a screen. There were bodies in front of the net and a pileup in the crease but Binnington somehow located the puck and barely kept it from crossing the goal line.
With New York’s goalie on the bench for the extra attacker, O’Reilly gathered in the puck along the right boards near the red line. O’Reilly found Schwartz skating into the New York zone, and Schwartz fired into an empty net to end all doubt with 5 seconds to play.
Summary and Notes
The 8 game winning streak is tied for the Blues’ longest of the season.
Jordan Binnington was very sharp, stopping 25 of 26 shots, many of them high quality chances. He has now won his last 6 starts.
With a goal and an assist, Colton Parayko had his 5th multi point game of the season – not bad for a guy who was a game time decision due to illness.
The Blues dominated in the faceoff arena, winning 64%. Late in the 3rd when the Rangers were desperate to tie the game, the Blues seemingly won every draw.
St. Louis is at New Jersey Friday night to take on the Devils and try to extend their winning streak to a season high 9 games. The Rangers continue the homestand Thursday against the Washington Capitals.