The St. Louis Blues played their 17th game of the season at home against the San Jose Sharks. It almost had the feel of being a new season, since the team had not played any other opponent than Arizona in almost three weeks.
It was like a fresh start. The Blues played accordingly.
They had a good start to the game. Despite an early penalty, the Blues were on their toes.
They killed off that initial penalty and then set their eyes forward. The Blues managed to draw a penalty of their own moments later.
While the power play unit didn’t look pinpoint accurate, they got the job done. Mike Hoffman was the cleanup man as he banged home into an empty net for a 1-0 lead.
St. Louis controlled most of the first period. The odd thing was when San Jose broke into their offensive zone, they seemed to always get a grade-A chance. Jordan Binnington was called on to make several saves to preserve the lead.
Things switched in the second period. The Blues had another power play, but could not take advantage.
That led almost directly to the tying goal for San Jose. After the Blues got into scramble mode, San Jose buried one despite a sprawling play by Binnington almost keeping it out.
The Sharks took a 2-1 lead around six minutes after. While normally dominant, the Blues lost the faceoff and never recovered.
One of the Sharks just glided in behind the defense as they all had eyes on the puck. This allowed two or three stickhandles and an uncontested shot underneath Binnington before anyone even really reacted.
The third period was a lot of motion, but very little offensive action overall. There were chances on both sides and some good saves all around, but it never really felt like a goal was coming.
That changed at the end. Brayden Schenn scored on a Hoffman rebound, with Binnington pulled, to force overtime.
More from Bleedin' Blue
- St. Louis Blues Pros/Cons From 2021 Game 54 At Los Angeles Kings
- Blues at Kings preview: St. Louis looking to get back on track
- St. Louis Blues Pros/Cons From 2021 Game 53 At Vegas Golden Knights
- Blues at Golden Knights preview: St. Louis begins playoff preparation
- St. Louis Blues Pros/Cons From 2021 Game 52 At Vegas
The Blues had all the best chances in overtime too. Martin Jones had to make two or three great saves before St. Louis finally beat him.
Pros: Early special teams
Whenever the game is not played at five on five, it never really favors the Blues. Their game is built on rolling four lines, wearing teams out and getting sustained pressure through waves of effort.
When that gets disrupted, it’s not normally for the best. At the start of this game, it went the other way.
The Blues took an early penalty with Dunn in the box. It was almost a good time to take it.
There was enough time gone for the legs to have gotten working. The Blues had some energy and used that to kill off that penalty.
That momentum carried into the team’s first power play. Again, the passes were not 100% crisp and until the goal happened, St. Louis was not overwhelming San Jose with shots.
Regardless, when you capitalize, it doesn’t matter what happened prior. What was even better was how Hoffman scored.
It was not some highlight reel snap shot that went into the upper 90. It was what the Blues desperately need to do more of – a shot off the far pad, leading to a rebound and an easy finish for the goal.
Cons: Second period
The things that were minor inconveniences in the first period blossomed in the second. Minor issues became problems.
St. Louis got too sloppy. They were not guilty of those blind or drop passes, but they were passing for passing’s sake.
Too often, pucks were forced into areas where nothing could be done. Either it was an easy break up or, if the intended target fielded the pass, there were no options because they were surrounded.
Additionally, the offensive zone pressure, including the power play, fell apart. Despite Darren Pang‘s assertion that the Blues were getting good pressure, it never amounted to anything.
They just kept cycling and cycling with no end goal in mind. If you move the puck 15 times, but get no shots off it, what was the point?
On top of that, St. Louis telegraphs far too much. They work themselves into a spot where the only option is a cross-ice pass and when teams are clogging the middle as San Jose did, it’s impossible to connect on that.
Cons: Another injury
Nothing was said in terms of severity. The Blues lost Ivan Barbashev for the rest of this game, though.
A puck went off his left leg while he was in the air. He then landed on that leg and lost balance after that first stride.
St. Louis got a couple guys back on defense, but they cannot afford to lose another forward. Hopefully, it’s just a precautionary thing and he’ll be back soon.
Pros: End of the game
The Blues, honestly, did not play that much better in the third. Many of the problems continued, such as the passes passing sake.
In the end, the Blues found a way to get it done. They had sustained pressure with their net empty and found a way to score, which used to be an impossibility.
Everything clicked on that final play. The passes were crisp and where they needed to be.
Hoffman had been getting good looks and snapped a heck of a shot that was hard for Jones to handle. Additionally, Schenn stayed right in the mixer. If he peels off, there’s no way he can react to that rebound.
St. Louis kept that momentum into the overtime. Instead of playing like they were happy with the point, they kept the pressure up.
They kept shooting and were looking to get stuff on net, instead of just passing and handing the puck off with every crisscross. The goal was really nice.
It was a bit lucky, because if Krug can’t settle that puck, it’s an odd-man rush the other way. Instead, he found a wide open Perron for the clinical finish.
This is one of those games where you don’t know what result is truly “fair”. The Blues did not deserve to win, but they did not deserve to lose. The same could be said of San Jose.
The Blues were the better team in the first. San Jose hit the gas in the second and St. Louis was flat footed.
If Binnington was not on top of his game, there’s no way the Blues come back. It would have been 3 or 4-1 before they woke up.
In the end, it’s about getting the two points. The Sharks played well in spurts and the Blues played down to their opponent as well.
St. Louis found a way to get it done. It was disjointed and messy, but a win is a win.
In terms of a team game, there was a lot that could have and needs to be better. Hopefully it will be, because the Blues need to rack up points over the next month against all these California teams.