The St. Louis Blues bounced back nicely from a rough road game, returning Thursday night to the friendly confines of Scottrade Center where they continue to enjoy success. Jaro Halak stopped 13 shots for his 2nd shutout of the young season and the Blues picked up goals by Patrik Berglund, TJ Oshie, and Vladimir Tarasenko. Wade Redden made his Blues debut paired with Alex Pietrangelo, Ryan Reaves and Scott Nichol returned to the lineup, and the Note turned in another excellent team defensive effort, completely shutting down a Predators crew coming off a 3-1 victory the night before.
The line of David Backes, Oshie, and David Perron was MUCH better than they’ve been over the first 3 games, with Perron having probably his best one yet, despite committing his fifth penalty of the season, ALL coming within the offensive zone. The Blues have created success by putting shots on the net and it paid off in the 1st period with a Power Play goal by Oshie off a rebound. This is a team built to take advantage of those rare second chances offered by the top tier goalies in the NHL today.
Chris Stewart looked fast and was strong on the puck from start to finish. Jaden Schwartz played another solid game at both ends, and we saw him spring Bergland for a breakaway that resulted in one of hockey’s most exciting plays: the penalty shot! Bergland was hauled down by Nashville’s Mike Fisher to win the penalty shot chance and then made the most of it with a bit of a front-to back-to front move, burying a wrister past Pekka Rinne to make it 2-0 Blues in the 2nd. It’s worth noting that Wade Redden also had a part in the break that led to Bergland’s penalty shot and looked more and more comfortable as the game wore on.
In the 3rd period, Tarasenko took a beauty of a cross-ice pass from Alex Steen and blasted the puck through Rinne’s five-hole to make it a 3-0 Blues lead. Tarsenko, Steen, and Andy McDonald already seem to have a chemistry you don’t usually see in a line until halfway through the season. Once again we saw Tarasenko being unafraid to find the puck, take AND deliver big hits, and stick handle like a veteran. The kid was playing in his 4th NHL game. Amazing. Tarasenko seems to see everything on the ice at all times.
Not to be forgotten, the line of Reaves, Nichol, and Vladimir Sobotka played their parts well. Reaves took care of business in the 2nd laying a huge hit on the Predator’s Rich Clune, and following up with a brief fight, brief only because Clune appeared to have bitten off more than he could chew. He wanted no part of the hulking Reaves. Sobotka and Nichel each continued to be some of the more consistent Bluenotes with a pair of solid fore and backchecking performances.
Kris Russell and Kevin Shattenkirk were both moving the puck well and getting into plays while the entire team did a great job of backing each other up. The Blues kept Nashville out of any odd-man rush situations and severely limited the Pred’s scoring chances. In my opinion, Petro still looked sluggish early on, but he settled down and flashed some of his A-game finally in the 3rd. I’m not sure what ‘s got him struggling right now, but I don’t see him skating the way we’ve seen him when things are right. I’m less concerned after his late-game surge.
Halak was good though obviously not called on often to makes stops, and Nashville never really tested him. Still, he was very sharp. I’d like to see him in goal again Saturday when the Blues travel to Dallas to take on Jaromir Jagr and the Stars.
GO BLUES! Long Live the Note!