Apparently the St. Louis Blues need to tell Ville Husso that the score is already 1-0 when the teams take the ice. He plays very well once that first goal has gone in.
Unfortunately, they did not let him know this before the game. He surrendered the first goal in the few minutes again, after a terrible Torey Krug turnover led to a two-on-none break from the high slot.
St. Louis did not let emotion get the best of them. They settled down and settled into the game.
Close to the six minute mark, the Blues tied things up. Their fourth line continued to be one of their best trios and Kyle Clifford continued to defy preseason logic with his third goal of the season.
As the period wore on, the teams traded blows back and forth and the game swung in the momentum. St. Louis would get the next tally though, as Zach Sanford snuck one past a screen and just over the pad for a 2-1 lead with less than seven minutes left in the first.
The Blues held that lead all the way through into the second period. It didn’t last though.
Sanford scored on a good screen. Arizona repaid the favor by utilizing a screen in front of Husso to make the game 2-2 at 5:27 of the second.
Arizona made it three for three, scoring an early goal in all three periods. 1:50 into the third, a deflected puck found a man on the back post for an empty net shot and a 3-3 tie.
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St. Louis was not able to crack the goal on offense and kept leaking shots against on defense. They played with fire one time too often as Husso poorly played a puck into the corner, the Coyotes gained possession and then scored on a wraparound rebound to make it 4-3.
The Blues came right back the other way. Jordan Kyrou had a wicked wrister from the right circle to tie the game just minutes later.
St. Louis briefly thought they had a go-ahead goal, but it was tipped in with a high stick. In overtime, the Blues got it done and Mike Hoffman scored a beauty from his off wing for the 5-4 win.
Pros: Unsung heroes
When it comes to scoring, you have certain guys you always expect. As far as jersey numbers you figure will end up on the score sheet, you’ve got 57, 25, 10, 90, 68 and these days you have 72 too.
When you get contributions from other guys, it’s just that little extra sweetness on a good dessert. The Blues got that dessert in the desert.
Kyle Clifford got things started with a heck of a shot. The Coyotes left him alone on the circle, so he eyed it up and snapped it into the upper 90.
I have been critical of Sanford in the past, but not in terms of being on the team. It’ more an idea that he has not deserved to be a top six forward.
He fits in with a third or fourth line role. Regardless of personal feelings, he showed why the coaching staff trusts him in expanded roles beyond the third line.
Sanford did not defer as he is want to do sometimes. He saw the screen set up in front, utilized it and fired one in. Perhaps it was fortunate, but you still need to put it on net for that to happen.
St. Louis also saw why their normal fourth line is so good. Barbashev has fit in so well with the top line because of his pure effort. He knew just where to be and pounced on the rebound.
Cons: Absorbing too much
Overall, the Blues have done a decent job of limiting overall shots against Husso when he’s in net. However, they are not doing a good job of limiting chances.
When teams have only a few shots, the majority of those shots have been quality chances. It was similar in this game, plus there were too many shots overall.
Through two periods, the Blues allowed 30 shots on goal. Husso had to stand tall several times because the Blues either failed to get the puck out of the zone or simply allowed Arizona to build too much momentum.
Credit goes to Arizona for making the most of their chances. Nevertheless, the Blues still struggle to counteract their speed.
St. Louis is not a speed team, but they’re still a quick team. Somehow they make Arizona look that much better.
The Coyotes connected on far to many passes into prime real estate. They did not have to pay a premium to be there either.
It was not the prettiest of performances, but the Blues got a W and that is big. It’s two wins in a row against a team that truly felt like they had the Blues number.
The games are too close for comfort right now. Last night was not really a 4-1 win since there were two empty net goals. This game was every bit of 5-4.
The odd thing was neither defense seemed to play that poorly. They were not great, but neither D-corps was playing in a way you’d think would surrender four or more goals.
Similarly, Husso was much better than you’d think having given up four goals. He made several great saves and, other than maybe the first goal, there really isn’t anything he might like back.
Jordan Kyrou continues to just be a real NHL sniper. The Blues better lock this guy up because that just does not seem like a one-year wonder kind of thing, the way he scores goals.
Speaking of goals, the one from Hoffman just shows why they brought him in. He’s so cool under pressure and that puck explodes off the stick.
There really was not many bad performances for the Blues. Even Vince Dunn kept things quiet defensively and made a few good plays on offense too.
Now, it’s a day break and then an afternoon game on Monday. May the ghosts of Presidents past smile on the Blues on their day.