Chris Stewart scored twice and Jake Allen made 39 saves en route to a St. Louis Blues victory Tuesday night at Scottrade Center over the San Jose Sharks. It was their 2nd win over the Sharks in four days.
Anything jump out at you from that paragraph above? It should. Allen was called upon to keep San Jose off the scoreboard forty-one times on Tuesday and while few of them were highlight-reel quality, making 39 saves should never be overlooked. He essentially won the game for St. Louis, something neither of their other goaltenders have been able to do this season.
I’m going to take 2 points every night I can get it, but aside from outstanding performances by Stewart, Allen, and Barret Jackman, I don’t think the Blues played anything close to their best game in their 3rd and final meeting of the season against the Sharks. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying they played a bad game or shouldn’t have won or anything like that, but you give up 41 shots and tell me you played a great game. Yeah, didn’t think so.
St. Louis had been, prior to Tuesday’s match-up, outshot a mere 5 times this season but had won only once out of those contests, emphasizing the importance of Allen’s 39-save performance. The Blues didn’t record their first shot on goal until about 3 minutes into the 1st period, and while they managed 3 shots on their first power-play the scored remained 0-0 until Stewart scored at 13:42.
The goal showcased Stewie’s sniping ability and saw the Blues move the puck efficiently up the ice, something they didn’t do much of throughout the remainder of the game. They had moments where they put good pressure on Antti Niemi in the Sharks’ zone, but St. Louis needed 22 blocked shots and the aforementioned 39 saves from Allen to keep this game from careening out of control.
San Jose buzzed around the St. Louis zone for 60 minutes, both teams were hitting everything in sight, and the Blues often looked to be reeling, despite getting a rare call their way from the officials at 10:39, when a pass from Patrik Berglund caromed off David Perron’s skate and into the net behind Niemi. Passes all night long seemed to be either too short or too long, but after review that one counted and put the Blues up 2-0. San Jose snatched back the momentum and finally lit the lamp just 62 seconds later as a Brent Burns slapshot trickled through Allen’s pads and across the red line. I’d bet it was one of those shots “Allen wishes he had back.”
I’d like to say the Blues played a decent, all-around game defensively, but I wont when they gave up 41 shots. I suppose the argument could be made that most of them came from the perimeter and Allen had clear sight to make them seem routine. One of the best players on the ice Tuesday night for St. Louis was Jackman. He played very physically, and while he did spend some time in the penalty box he played with passion and an attitude. He’s one of the veterans who have stepped up their game this year in the face of injuries derailing the team’s scoring.
Alex Pietrangelo made a great defensive play just inside the last minute of the 2nd period, getting his stick in front of a sure goal, and the ensuing play turned into a Blues rush. Jax picked up a bouncing puck at center ice and carried it in, firing a backhand shot Niemi couldn’t cover. Chris Porter, trailing the play, banged home an easy rebound for his 1st goal of the season making it 3-1 Blues with only 6 seconds left in the 2nd period.
St. Louis, though up by 2 goals, played frantic defense for most of the 3rd period. They didn’t register a shot on goal until almost 10 minutes into the frame. The Sharks skated extremely well in the offensive zone, keeping the pressure on Allen and drawing multiple penalties. The Blues were unable to kill off a 5-on-3 advantage by San Jose, who drew within one after a Dan Boyle power-play goal at 13:32. I think it was another one that Allen should’ve made the stop on, but he was still amazing throughout the night.
I’d say it was a pretty sloppy game for the Blues, but again, I’ll take the win and the 2 points. Stewie added an empty net tally with 1:16 left and joined Allen and Porter as one of the game’s 3 Stars. I hope the three can contribute again tomorrow night as the Phoenix Coyotes come to St. Louis and we can see the Blues settle down a little bit defensively.
GO BLUES! Long Live the Note!