The St. Louis Blues rebounded nicely Saturday night in Nashville from a disappointing Friday overtime loss with a 6-1 blasting of the Predators. Jaroslav Halak got the start on consecutive nights and was excellent in net, stopping 22 of 23 shots for the win. The Blues looked like they did the first Saturday of October, with goals from five different players including Alexander Steen with 2, giving him 10 on the season, tied with Alex Ovechkin for the league lead.
Despite relinquishing their first short-handed goal of the season, to Nashville’s Nick Spaling, St. Louis maintained a commanding lead throughout the game, going 2-for-5 on the power play. Steens 1st goal came only 5 minutes into the 1st period with the man-advantage and Alex Pietrangelo capped the scoring in the 3rd with his 1st goal of the year, also on special teams.
The Blues were flat and lifeless on Friday night and were disappointed with the way they finished. Saturday you could see they came in ready from the get-go and kept their foot on the gas pedal, soemthing they’ve had trouble doing in the past when they go into shut-down mode too soon. I liked their aggressiveness in the offensive zone and it produced goals by TJ Oshie, Jaden Schwartz, and Derek Roy, who scored with a wicked wrister after a nifty outlet pass to reverse the flow from Vladi Tarasenko.
St. Louis played Their Game: controlling the puck well, moving it out of their zone quickly and up the ice with fewer passes, and with the exception of the shorty, efficiently killing penalties. It’s been Hitchcock’s basic recipe for success. The Blues were more disciplined Saturday night, only giving Nashville 3 power plays. Halak made some key saves but for the most part was untested. Due to Pekka Rinne’s hip infection, the Preds started Carter Hutton who was chased in the 3rd period after Roy’s goal. Rookie Magnus Hellberg saw his first NHL action and stopped 3 of the 4 shots he faced in relief.
This was the game expected from the Blues after the previous night’s debacle. They’ve dominated the Predators over their last 10 or so games against them and Halak improved to 8-1-1 versus the division rival since joining St. Louis. Winning the games you’re supposed to win isn’t always glamorous, but it sure is fun to see the boys pile up the points. Petro’s goal was only the 2nd by a Blues defenseman this season (Roman Polak has the other) though he, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Jay Bouwmeester all have 6 or more assists.
The Blues are back home tomorrow night for another tilt against the Winnipeg Jets. Let’s hope the outcome is better than the last one when they lost in a shoot-out. Magnus Paajarvi wont be practicing today due to an injury suffered against Nashville Saturday, and Chris Stewart is listed as doubtful for tomorrow’s game with an “upper body” injury. With Maxim Lapierre serving the last of his 5-game suspension, I will expect to see Adam Cracknell back in the lineup, and we might even see a call-up from the Chicago Wolves, someone like Chris Porter, perhaps?
GO BLUES! LONG LIVE THE NOTE!