Blues Shutout Sabres, Extend 13 Game Streak


The St. Louis Blues (34-13-4) shutout the Buffalo Sabres (15-34-3) 3-0 Thursday night in Buffalo, New York.  The last time these teams met, the first of a two game series, was on November 11th and resulted in a 6 to 1 victory for the Blues.  The Blues entered the game after a close win over Tampa Bay which allowed the Blues to extend their club record point-streak.  Buffalo hadn’t done as well, winning their prior game which was the only in their last 10.

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A matchup between Buffalo and St. Louis is interesting because both teams have remnants from a large trade last season.  In part, Buffalo gave up their Captain, Steve Ott, as well as a goaltender Ryan Miller in exchange for Chris Stewart and former Blues Ace Jaroslav Halak.  Miller and Halak have moved on, yet Stewart and Ott remain and have had moderate success with their new clubs.

Patrik Berglund returned to the lineup for the Blues while Chris Porter, Jori Lehtera and Kevin Shattenkirk remained out due to injury.  Brian Elliot took the night off allowing Jake Allen a start in the net.

Tonight’s game was important for the Blues since the Ducks and Predators had a game in Nashville and are the only two currently ahead of the Blues in the league’s standings.  Tonight’s win will at worst put the Blues two points closer to one of these two teams and at best will tie them with the Predators for the lead in the Central Division.


The Blues spent the first five minutes of the game breaking up Buffalo plays and took a couple of shots.  The Sabres found their first shot a minute later and the teams continued to play back and forth hockey.  The Sabres picked things up and worked to close the shot gap.  They had a big chance after twelve minutes but only managed to tie in shots by fourteen minutes.

After over 10 minutes of continuous action, play stopped at 18:03 after Ian Cole was called for hooking.  It took the Sabres 30 seconds to set up on the power play but they were quickly broken up.  They couldn’t get set up again and the period ended without a score with the Sabres leading in shots 7-6.

The Blues killed the remaining three penalty kill seconds at the start of the second period.  The Blues maintained control in the early minutes.  After seven minutes of play the Blues gained dominance and had extended their shot lead to 14-7.  Midway it was 16 to 10.  After 12 minutes the Sabres had their best chance yet when Chris Stewart failed to score on a breakaway.

Feb 5, 2015; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyson Strachan (24) looks to block a shot by St. Louis Blues center Patrik Berglund (21) during the first period at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

At 14:47 Cole went to the box again.  For hooking.  Again.  The Blues killed the penalty.  After an offensive zone faceoff at 18:03, Dmitrij Jaskin scored on a wraparound after catching a rebound to put the Blues up 1-0.  Chris Butler and Ty Rattie earned assists.  The Sabres came close to answering back but Jake Allen made excellent saves.  The period ended after a Sabres attack with the Blues maintaining their 1-0 lead.

The third period started with a lot of the same play as the earlier periods.  However the Sabres quickly shifted their momentum and started to chip away at the Blues’ lead in shots.  At 15:59 Nicolas Deslauriers went to the box for hooking.  Halfway into the power play the Sabres gained a short-handed breakaway which Jake Allen denied.  The Blues set up again but were unable to score on the power play.

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  • With 8 minutes down, the play became more physical.  Ryan Reaves, Steve Ott and Marcel Goc received more ice time.  Despite being pushed around, at 13:22 Vladimir Tarasenko scored from the slot to give the Blues a 2-0 lead.  David Backes and Alexander Steen received assists.

    The Blues continued to put up pressure as the time ran down.  With 1:30 left the Sabres pulled their goalie which allowed Jaden Schwartz to score on an empty net from the Blue line to extend the lead to 3-0.  Paul Stastny and Jake Allen earned the assists.  The Blues held on and closed the game with a 3-0 win.


    There isn’t a whole lot to say about this game other than it was mostly unremarkable.  The teams played a way too clean first period with half of it being uninterrupted.  While it speaks well to the Blues’ defense because they kept the puck away from Jake Allen, this is not a good thing for the team for the same reason on offense.  If the other team’s goalie does have a chance to smother the puck, then you aren’t taking enough shots.  7 on one side with 6 on the other isn’t optimal.  The Blues should play much better against a team with the Sabres’ recent record and current standings.

    With all due respect to the Sabres’, maybe this was the right time for this pairing.  The Blues did not play a very strong game against the Lightning and could have been miserably beaten by a league-leading team which would have been bad for morale.  The Blues shouldn’t look at this game as a stalemate but as a wake-up call.  In a pairing such as this, if they don’t have two goals in the first then they aren’t playing the way they should.

    Feb 5, 2015; Buffalo, NY, USA; St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko (91) takes a shot on goal during the first period against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

    Patrik Berglund played his first game since returning from injury.  He, Joakim Lindstrom and Ty Rattie worked some great shifts which is something fans and analysts wouldn’t have expected.  Considering the fourth line of Ryan Reaves, Steve Ott and Marcel Goc weren’t playing up to what we’ve seen, this third line performance was much needed.

    It is also good to see Vladimir Tarasenko scoring again.  He had a very strong start to the season but went cold in recent months.  Vladi has scored in the last two games which is hopefully the beginning of some much needed scoring momentum.

    One thing is for sure, though; without the stellar goaltending from Elliot against Tampa Bay as well as Allen in this game; the Blues would be in a much different, worse, place.

    What are your thoughts?  Leave a comment below.

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