The St. Louis Blues were poised to build some momentum after a solid win the night prior against the San Jose Sharks. Instead, it started off with bad news.
First, Tyler Bozak was held out of the game with an upper-body injury. While it is merely speculation, given what had held Bozak out for half the season, it seems fair to assume what the upper-body injury is.
As far as what happened on the ice, things did not improve much from that news. After a scramble play, Ville Husso made a save but could not cover the puck and San Jose would eventually jam it in.
While Husso would continue to have a very good period, it was another example of an early goal, coming off the third shot of the game. Thankfully, the Blues did not waste time evening things up.
Around a minute later, Vince Dunn scored on a slap shot to tie it up 1-1. St. Louis started getting their feet under them offensively and got more of a push.
The Blues took a 2-1 lead with a little over six minutes played. Jordan Kyrou got off the cold streak by scoring his ninth of the season.
As tends to happen, the Blues let off the gas a little in the second period. Oddly, they had more shots in the second, but were sloppier overall.
San Jose capitalized almost midway through the frame. Miscommunication led to a Sharks goal on a breakaway and a 2-2 game.
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Speaking of capitalizing, the Blues did just that after a faceoff violation put the Sharks into the penalty box. After looking hapless on the power play, the Blues won the draw, worked it around and got a goal from Ryan O’Reilly to take a 3-2 lead.
Much of the third period passed with little fan fare. You could really tell this was an empty arena, regardless of how well or poor the Sharks were doing.
St. Louis picked it up later in the third. While pressuring the goal, Torey Krug held the zone and found Kyrou with a diagonal cross-ice pass and Kyrou tapped it in on the second attempt.
The Blues tripled their lead with an empty net goal. They almost took a four-goal lead after a partial break for Sammy Blais was disrupted by a Jon Casey-like dive and poke check.
Nevertheless, the Blues will grab four points in San Jose and turn their losing streak around with two wins.
Cons: Sharks second goal
The actual goal that gave San Jose a 2-2 tie was a great shot. There was nothing Husso could do about that since he was one-on-one with the attacker.
It was the build up that left much to be desired. The Blues had opportunities to stop it.
After giving up the puck in the offensive zone, the Blues got back, but it wasn’t with a ton of speed. Justin Faulk got tied up with a Sharks player on the near boards, just outside the offensive zone.
That hold took him out of the play, giving the impression he was late getting back. Torey Krug took the puck carrier, which he should have, but Vladimir Tarasenko glided over to provide assistance that was not needed.
The absence of Faulk on that side, coupled with Tarasenko going toward the puck instead of guarding space left Tomas Hertl wide open. Tarasenko needed to realize the situation and push into the middle of the zone to take away space.
Krug had the initial puck carrier covered. The play did not cost the Blues, but it was a defensive miscue that could have been costly.
There are still things that Jordan Kyrou needs to improve on. Like so many other Blues players, he actually needs to become more selfish.
It’s easy to say from home, but Kyrou defers too much. He was not doing that earlier in the season, but now that he’s playing with the top stars more often, he seems too content to look for them each and every time.
This game proved why that’s not the best course of action. Two goals needs to wet his apatite for more.
His first goal was enough reason for him to start focusing on scoring more. It was a perfect goal.
O’Reilly had the set up from below the goal line, but Kyrou had to get into position and then angle his stick for the scoop shot over the far shoulder. That’s no easy task and proof of Kyrou’s skill.
The second goal was not as pretty, but more appreciated. Too many times you see scorers shy away from the front of the net, but Kyrou was getting his nose dirty.
He fought off the hold, got his stick free and tapped in his second of the game.
This was a great team win, led by all the right people. Guys that were struggling, got back on the right side of things and guys that were playing well, stepped up and helped the others.
Credit where it’s due, Vince Dunn had a very good game. He was not perfect and still causes too many problems with his passing and defensive issues.
Nevertheless, he scored a goal and an assist and was doing a lot right. He finished the night with two hits and a blocked shot, showing he can buy into the Blues system just like anyone.
Ryan O’Reilly was a leader by example, as usual. He was a plus-4 and picked up four huge points.
Husso was excellent. His detractors will whine about the early goal, but he made several key saves that kept the Blues afloat while they struggled and kept them in the lead once it was gained.
The disappointing thing is the Blues having to use so many guys continually. They were all but forced to put Jacob de La Rose back into action after Tyler Bozak was not able to go.
Zach Sanford had to enter the covid protocol, so he missed the game. All this was on the heels of finding out Oskar Sundqvist will miss the rest of the season.
Still, the Blues stepped up their game and kept going. They got the win in regulation, which has been difficult against San Jose.
Now, they switch their focus back to Vegas. The mighty Golden Knights await the Blues in Sin City on Monday.
The Blues need to regather, get all the healthy bodies they can and charge straight at the division leaders. Consistency is key, so they cannot afford to have any more downs and need a few more ups.