The St. Louis Blues would have had ready made excuses in front of them if they laid an egg in Winnipeg. Instead, the Blues took it to the division leaders.
The St. Louis Blues had an excuse to lose to Winnipeg laid on a silver platter. They used up a lot of offense 24 hours prior, had to take a late flight north and were facing a rested team.
The Blues tossed all that to the side and took care of business. St. Louis had a solid first period, kept the high-powered Jets offense quiet in the opening frame and set themselves up for a 40 minute battle.
St. Louis was able to get the first goal of the game, which has been huge for them. The Blues are now 27-5-1 when scoring the first goal. They are 7-15-2 when the opponent has scored first, so that Vladimir Tarasenko goal was gigantic.
As we hoped after the last game, St. Louis seem to have learned their lesson. They drove the net and scored more close goals.
The Blues did allow a goal late in the second, but overall the Blues were solid for most of this game. They needed to stay out of the box, but the offense and the team play was reminiscent of what we saw early in the season.
The Blues spent too much time in the penalty box.
St. Louis gave the Jets far too many chances to get back into this game on the power play. The Jets had four power plays, two of which almost came back to back.
Even if you ignore the individual talent the Jets have, the Blues had been doing a good job of stifling them. Suddenly, by putting yourself in the box, you allow that offense time to set up and get comfortable. That’s not a good recipe for winning.
Ultimately, the Jets only scored once with the man advantage. Nevertheless, you don’t want to give a team like that any air when you’ve been smothering them.
Vladimir Tarasenko came back to life.
Just when you thought he had lost his scoring touch, Tarasenko busted back into the scoring column. It’s been tough skating for Vlady, missing some open nets. He’s gotten so frustrated that he broke his stick after missing an open chance against Colorado.
He took those frustrations out on the Jets. The first goal was a stereotypical Tarasenko goal, snapped over the blocker from the right circle.
His second goal was even better. Tarasenko drove to the net and scored from an almost impossible angle.
Beyond just the beauty and effort of the goal, it was immensely important to the game. The Jets had cut the lead to one at that point and the Blues needed a quick momentum shift. What better way to snuff the momentum than with your superstar getting a goal to quiet the road crowd.
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On top of his goals, Tarasenko was just playing a solid game. He was forechecking, taking the body and getting back to help with defense. This gives him nine goals and 16 points in his last 14 games against Winnipeg. Just a solid game and one that might spring him on another hot streak.
A few too many of those old mistakes.
We already talked about the penalties, but there were a few too many of those old mistakes creeping back in. The zone exits started getting a little weaker as the game progressed was one of the main ones.
Early in the contest, the Blues looked like they or the puck was shot out of the canon as they left their zone. Later in the game, it was those weak, backhanded chips trying to leave and not making it.
That led to turnovers which led to scoring chances for the Jets. When you beat one of the best teams in the division, you can only complain so much, but you want to keep those little things from snowballing into big ones.
Jake Allen had a good game AND got the win.
The Snake had an excellent game in Boston, but did not get rewarded for it. Despite making over 40 saves, there was no offensive help and the Blues lost. They did not make the same mistake in Winnipeg.
Allen was solid, took good angles, was sharp on his edges (no pun intended) and on top of his crease. Those are all things that were lacking when he was struggling.
Allen was not tested often, facing only 22 shots. However, not all the shots were lofted beach balls.
Who knows if Allen will eventually return to a more prominent starting roll this season. His counterpart on the Blues is playing so well, it could be tough.
That is another matter. For this game, it was a fantastic continuation of the confidence building for Allen. He played extremely well against Boston and very good against Winnipeg. He can now add his name to only three other goaltenders to beat the Jets up north this season too.
A welcome surprise.
These are the times I am more than happy to be wrong. If you read the pregame news and notes, you saw I predicted a 3-2 Jets win in overtime.
Instead, we saw the Blues carry over much of what they accomplished against Colorado. It was an impressive win.
The Blues kept driving the net, which is something that has been lacking. They kept their foot on the gas, which is something they’ve failed to do plenty of times.
They put their foot on the opponent’s throat. That might be the best thing we’ve seen out of the last two games. Yes, the goals are great, but to know the Blues were not going to let these games slip away is even more appealing.
St. Louis got good goaltending, timely scoring and solid team defense. I still do not think the Minnesota performance was an aberration, but it’s looking like this team is finally having things sink in.
The Blues are now within two points of the Central lead after Nashville lost as well. They do still have Dallas nipping at their heels, but looking forward is best.
The renewed urgency is coming at a great time. Pittsburgh is up next and then it’s on the road to Nashville and Dallas. Win or lose, these must be the Blues we see in those games.