Derek Roy was a plus-2 with an assist and a takeaway in his triumphant return to Buffalo as the St. Louis Blues beat the Sabres Tuesday night 4-1 at the First Niagara Center. Jaroslav Halak stopped 23 of 24 Sabres shots as the Blues improved to 8-1-0 against the Sabres in Buffalo since 1999.
Halak, who was pulled very early in his start against Washington on Sunday, had a very auspicious start Tuesday night, allowing a tip-in goal just ten SECONDS into the game. I put more of the blame on the defense for that one. Jay Bouwmeester failed to corral the Buffalo dump-in, and Alex Pietrangelo couldn’t cover up Tyler Ennis going hard to the net. After Sunday’s disaster, it was horrifying to see Jaro beat right off the opening puck-drop.
The Blues recovered well, tying the score 1-1 a minute later as Brenden Morrow netted his 3rd goal of the season. Our boys took control from there. Vladi Tarasenko would add a power-play tally for St. Louis, and the 1st period ended 2-1 Blues. Morrow scored again in the 2nd to put St. Louis up 3-1. This goal, like his early one, was set up nicely by Chris Stewart.
Newcomer Magnus Paajarvi would close out the scoring in the 3rd period with his 1st goal as a Blue, stepping into a big slap-shot courtesy of Ryan Reaves and Bouwmeester who extended his point streak to five games with the assist. “Magnum P.I.,” as I’ve heard him called by the local media (terrible!), was playing in place of the injured Patrik Berglund. He skated with Reaver and Max Lapierre. That line had a lot of jump throughout the game and played very good end-to-end hockey Tuesday night.
Though the Blues didn’t necessarily out-play the Sabres, it was never much of a contest. Buffalo isn’t a very good team this season, and I’m hoping the 4 goals against will quiet many of the “St. Louis MUST get Ryan Miller to replace Halak!” crowd. Jaro was solid after the quick 1st period goal. When healthy, as he is this season, Halak plays at a very high level. I believe he has what it takes to win the Cup in St. Louis with this team.
Stewie nearly missed Tuesday’s game, sitting out the morning practice with flu-like symptoms. Staying in bed obviously paid off as he played one of his better games of the young season earning the game’s 2nd star. The Blues are off to their best start in franchise history after 20 games, sitting at 14-3-3, and continue to have the best inter-conference record since the 2010-11 season (31-9-5.)
Moving into the #1 spot in ESPN’s NHL Power Rankings this week, the Blues will look to continue their success against the Boston Bruins Thursday night. Halak will get the start again, and it’s likely Berglund will miss another. He could be back on home ice Saturday when St. Louis returns to the Scottrade Center versus the Dallas Stars.
GO BLUES! LONG LIVE THE NOTE!