The St. Louis Blues were looking for something to build on and feel good about, coming into San Jose for the first time in 2021. Sadly, that’s a little too much to ask for.
The game was not even close to a minute old and the Sharks managed to score the first goal of the game. It was just a toss toward the net and it banked off the Blues own defenseman, who was properly crashing to the net to help.
It was a jolt that was unnecessary, but that the Blues could withstand. They found their game and tied the game with a blast from the point by Marco Scandella.
But, the Blues would start a trend that was not a welcome one. Shortly after scoring the goal, David Perron took a dumb offensive zone penalty.
Of course, the Sharks scored on the power play to take a 2-1 lead. That would hold through the rest of the first period as San Jose really started outplaying the Blues, outchancing them 10-3 in the opening 20 minutes.
The Blues composed themselves and started the second period well. Less than four minutes in, Sammy Blais tied the game, scooping it into an empty net after catching the goaltender down.
Blais gave the goal right back by taking an offensive zone penalty of his own. With the defender’s numbers directly facing him, he crosschecked him in the back. The fall might have been weak, but it was a penalty in almost any universe and San Jose made the Blues pay. This time, there was an unguarded screen in front and a roof shot over Jordan Binnington, who was too deep in his net.
Defense was apparently optional. The Blues tied the game shortly after. St. Louis set up Brayden Schenn on the right circle and he hammered a one-timer for a 3-3 tie, still less than midway through the game.
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Evander Kane scored a softy three minutes after that. The game fully devolved afterward.
Binnington was pulled and tried to pick three fights on his way out. The Blues took another penalty when Niko Mikkola covered the puck, giving San Jose a five-on-three and the Sharks gave it right back with a hooking call that was likely not hooking.
Somehow, all those penalties went by the wayside with no goals, despite seven goals going in before all that.
Despite the fact I did not care for it, the Blues seemed to rally around it. Ville Husso made several great saves and then Zach Sanford scored a cheeky goal, sneaking it between the goaltender and the post.
The Blues killed a penalty off to start the third and then more insanity proceeded. In the first seven minutes of the third period, four goals were scored (two for each team).
Then, at 7:14 of the period, Scandella scored his second of the game to make it 7-6. It was total insanity at that point. It would have made sense to see players skating around in straight jackets.
It goes without saying that taking penalties is never a good thing. Despite playing well for a few games, the Blues penalty kill could not save them.
We can argue about the penalties called, as we always do. The one against Blais was weak, but it was one that will be called by 99% of officials when it’s a check from behind. The others were just as boneheaded, regardless of the legitimacy of their calls.
The penalty kill was not bad, really. However, St. Louis refuses to clear the puck when they have the chance and that bites them time after time.
Through two periods, the Blues gave the Sharks six power plays. If you want to get technical, the sixth power play occurred in the third period since it was given at the final seconds of the second, but it doesn’t matter.
You cannot take that many penalties and expect to win.
The Blues played sloppy and had plenty of defensive lapses. Despite this, they found a way to come back every time.
The two power play goals against seemed like back breakers. Kane’s second goal felt like that would be the deciding factor.
The Blues just tightened their skates and responded each time. Not only did they respond, but finally found a way to nudge themselves in front.
It was an insane game, but the Blues found the will to see it through. There’s tons to clean up, but you like to see this kind of perseverance out of a team, especially one going through so much adversity.
Ville Husso has not played many NHL games, but he’s been raked over the coals in a short time. It is true that he’s needed to give up that first goal before he gets comfortable, but this still feels like a scenario where the hype was too high and you had a player just getting his feet wet.
In this game, we got a glimpse of what the Blues scouting staff has seen in Husso all along. He was making quality saves and had the lateral movement and positioning to make some stops he wasn’t supposed to.
Stat heads will say 19 saves and a .905 save percentage is not that great, but they’re missing the point. He was under siege for much of his time in there and a good 10 of those 19 saves were off grade-A chances.
This is not an anointing of Husso as anything, but it gives you a lot more confidence about his next time out there.
There were plenty of individual moments that deserved pros in this game, but there weren’t really a ton of great individual performances. The Blues had fantastic goals from Schenn, Blais and the shorthanded goal from Makenzie MacEachern.
They had great effort plays by Ryan O’Reilly and Zach Sanford on their goals. The Blues had plenty of mistakes too.
It was just such an odd game overall. San Jose scores 17 seconds into the game off a lucky deflection and we were off to the races.
The weird thing was the defenses were not horrendous. It was just a game with a lot of fluky bounces, timely shots and end-to-end action.
Each team had a goal or two they would like their goaltender to have saved, but that kind of washed out. Overall, it just boiled down to the Blues having the final push.
Again, I did not personally care for the actions by Binnington. I get that it charged up the team, but it also put the team shorthanded with a cold goaltender coming into the game. Nevertheless, you cannot argue that it sparked something, whether that was intentional or not.
The Blues have to use this as a springboard. There aren’t a ton of positives, in terms of x’s and o’s, to carry over, but just the fight and will it took to win.
That’s what fans want. We all know about the injuries and are willing to take that into consideration, but when the team is flat and doesn’t have that fire, it doesn’t matter who is on the ice – it’s just discouraging. Thankfully, we got that fire here.