The St. Louis Blues hosted the Carolina Hurricanes Saturday night in the first of four straight against Eastern Conference foes. The Blues beat the ‘Canes 4-2 as Alexander Steen extended his league-leading point streak to 13 games, scoring his 17th goal of the season and adding an assist on Roman Polak’s 3rd goal. David Backes and TJ Oshie each scored for St. Louis as their top line continues to dominate the stat sheet and opponents alike. Brian Elliott, starting the opener of back-to-back games for St. Louis, got his 3rd win, stopping 18 of 20 Carolina shots.
Dueces were wild Saturday night, as the teams skated into the 2nd period tied 0-0. The Blues took a 2-0 lead halfway through the period on goals from Polak then Backes, 2-minutes apart. Backes scored from a nearly impossible angle after hard work by Jay Bouwmeester to keep the puck in the zone and a perfect feed from Brenden Morrow from behind the Carolina net.
The Hurricanes stormed back later in the 2nd with not one but TWO short-handed goals, on the same Blues power-play, a feat rarely seen in the NHL. St. Louis failed to get the puck deep in the Carolina zone to set-up their man-advantage and turned the puck over at the blueline, leading to a breakaway for Eric Staal. Nathan Gerbe netted the 2nd shorty after Elliott misplayed the puck in the corner.
Thankfully for the Blues, they have the lead’s leading scorer in Steen who bailed them out in the 3rd period with his 17th, setup by Ian Cole (his 1st point of the season) and a beautiful, long stretch-pass from Polak. Steen beat Justin Peters to the blocker side, who otherwise was very good at keeping his team in the game Saturday, making 28 saves on 31 shots in the losing effort.
St. Louis certainly didn’t play as well on special teams as they usually do, giving up the 2 shorties and going only 1 for 5 on the power-play, but they still played their game, dominating play in the neutral zone and limiting Carolina to only 20 shots on goal. The lone Blues power-play goal was Oshie’s empty-netter in the final minute of the game. The Blues will have to be more disciplined and even more aware tonight as they face-off against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. We’ll likely see Backes matched up most of the night against Ovi, which should be an entertaining battle.
St. Louis has the best record in interconference play since the 2010-11 season, going 30-9-5 since that time. I expect they’ll be ready for the Caps, but travelling between back-to-back games will be the challenge tonight. Jaroslav Halak will start in net for the Blues, and I’ll be surprised to see many lineup changes otherwise, though Oshie took a slapshot off his left knee Saturday night and could possibly get a break to heal up.
GO BLUES! LONG LIVE THE NOTE!