The St. Louis Blues might not want to make things easy on their fans. They are getting the job done at the most crucial time of the year though.
The St. Louis Blues took on the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second and final time in 2017-18. It was not the best performance of the year, by far, but the Blues got the job done.
St. Louis managed to overcome a slightly slow start, with Columbus picking up the first two shots of the game. Jake Allen had to be strong early, facing some good scoring opportunities.
However, the Blues struck first, which has been huge for them. St. Louis improved to 37-6-2 when scoring the first goal. It was not easy along the way.
Columbus seemed to score immediately after the Blues, but it was ruled to have been kicked in. The Blue Jackets fired 14 shots on goal in the first alone. Allen was key to the Blues retaining a one goal lead into the second, including a mesmerizing glove save early in the period.
Columbus got another 12 shots in the second. Allen was solid again and the Blues managed to strike again. Vladimir Tarasenko scored to double the lead almost midway through.
The Blue Jackets would get a goal from Cam Atkinson later in the second and they kept plugging away. Though both teams had single-digit shots in the third period, the Blues seemed to be scrambling and held on for life.
They got the job done though and won by the final of 2-1.
As much as the Snake has been under fire of late, and much of it was deserved, it has been great to see him turn it on here at the end of the season. Allen has not been quite as stellar as we saw in the playoffs last season, but this looks much more like the goaltender that single-handedly stole the Minnesota series as opposed to the one that had everything trickling in.
It cannot be emphasized enough how much of an impact Allen had on this game in the first period alone. He made a solid pad save just a minute into the game, allowing the Blues to catch their breath instead of being behind by a goal.
Then, just about six minutes in, he saved the game and maybe even the season with highway robbery. Allen was screened and the net was gaping, but he managed to get the glove over and steal a sure goal.
The Snake kept it up through the rest of the game. While the defense started picking up the slack a lot throughout the rest of the contest, Allen was still big.
He ended up earning the first star of the game, turning aside 33 of 34 shots. It was perhaps the biggest example of Allen’s turnaround following two months of bad play.
The defense made some key mistakes.
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The Blues played a decent game overall, but there were some mistakes in key areas or key moments of the game that could have easily swung the game the other way.
The cross-ice pass that almost ended up as a goal before Allen’s robbery was one of those moments. Another was a turnover by Tarasenko that led to a semi-break for Artemi Panarin. Allen made another save on that break, keeping St. Louis ahead.
This category does not apply to defensemen only. The forwards had some blunders. In the third period, Patrik Berglund got called for a double-minor. High sticking calls are not always something you can avoid, but when you give a team four minutes of power play time, that really puts undue pressure on your teammates.
Fortunately, the Blue Jackets took a penalty themselves to negate half that man advantage.
Tarasenko kept his stick hot.
One night after scoring a key goal against Vancouver, Tarasenko did the same thing against Columbus.
This one was an example of what the Blues need more of from 91. It was a goal scored by him alone. Tarasenko entered the zone, cut through three defenders and whipped a shot past the glove hand of the goaltender.
It was Tarasenko’s second goal in two games and third in six. It was his 29th of the season, which makes it likely he’ll get to 30 for the fourth season in a row.
The Blues did a little too much holding on.
By no means were the Blues outmatched in the third period. They were only outshot by one, 8-7.
However, you just got the feeling that St. Louis was trying to hold on instead of trying to win. They failed to get an empty net goal, again, and just had to absorb a lot of pressure.
On the plus side, St. Louis had a ton of blocked shots. The Blues turned aside 23. However, combining that with the 34 that were on target, that’s a lot of pucks getting sent toward goal.
At this stage of the year you cannot care if the Blues parked the bus and sat all five players on the goal line. A win is a win and you need the points. You’d like to see them stay on the hunt a little more than they did though.
A new milestone reached.
The Blues pushed their win streak to a season high of five games. This could not have come at a better time. The Blues, even during their best of times, have struggled to string together win after win. So, picking these up at the most crucial time is paramount.
Additionally, St. Louis managed to end Columbus’ 10 game winning streak. To get the better of a team that was so hot really gives the team confidence as they enter a much needed break.
St. Louis relied on their goaltender a little too much, but they’re getting things done. That’s all you can ask for right now.
You’re not going to have perfect games every night, but when you win anyway that is the kind of stuff you have to do in the playoffs.
Speaking of which, the Blues are momentarily above the playoff line for the first time in quite some time. While it will change over the next couple days, it’s good to see them north of the mark again.