The thing with the St. Louis Blues is you never quite know what you’re going to get. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean they’re a box of chocolates, unless some of the chocolates have gone terribly moldy.
The last time the Blues had a three-game winning streak, they turned around and lost three in a row. That included a rather important game against Arizona, whom the Blues trailed in the standings at the time.
While it’s never good to judge regular season games too much, the team does seem different this time around. There is just a different vibe.
The Blues showed that by scoring the first goal of the game. While St. Louis has the talent to come from behind sometimes, they just get to play their game so much more when they have the lead.
The Blues had a solid first period. They got the goal the same way they scored their first goal the previous night, by crashing the net to cash in.
The first 20 went by without much else going on, aside from a fantastic save by Ville Husso in the final minute. The second period was full of great stuff for the Blues.
Marco Scandella, of all people, would score on a wrister to make the lead 3-0. It was a shot that should have been saved, but you don’t play nice and just take the goal.
Things got nervous later on. Minnesota scored on a high slapper with three minutes left in the second and again 2:21 into the third.
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Minnesota was coming, but the Blues kept calm. The captain, Ryan O’Reilly banged one in on the power play to restore the two-goal lead with around 13 minutes remaining.
The Blues just can’t make it easy on fans though. Minnesota beat Husso to the glove side, this time utilizing a big screen to make the score 4-3 at 15:21.
The Wild pulled their goalie and you got the feeling that they’d tie it if the Blues did not get an empty net goal early. That’s exactly what happened.
The Blues absorbed early pressure in the overtime. Then, Jordan Kyrou hit a magnificent pass to the captain and O’Reilly finished it for a 5-4 win.
Pros: Special teams
As awful as the Blues special teams units have been throughout the season, they have found their stride here lately. While this team needs to still win games five-on-five, if you’re getting the job done with your special teams units too, so much the better.
Both units chipped in with good performances here. It was the PK that got things going.
Though the Blues only had one penalty all night, and we could argue about the validity of the call, they did their job and then some. They limited the chances against and also got a nice shorthanded goal from Bozak. You can’t ask for much more.
The power play was strong too. Some will complain about the first power play that came up empty handed, but they still looked decent. It was a far cry from earlier in the season when they could barely enter the zone.
It wasn’t the best goal of all time, coming off a sweep shot from the slot, but it was a Blues goal. St. Louis is not a pretty team and they needed to stop looking for pretty plays long ago. They can get some, sure, but that’s not their game. This kind of goal is.
Cons: Allowing the Wild back in
Full credit has to go to Minnesota for not giving up in this game. They could easily have packed it in when down 3-0 and said let’s get ready for Saturday.
Instead, they chipped away and got themselves back into the game. They pushed the Blues into difficult situations and the Blues wilted a little.
Unlike other games, you cannot say the Blues simply handed this to Minnesota. The Wild definitely took it and you could only want, maybe, one goal back from Husso.
Nevertheless, the Blues lost their edge once they went up by three. They weren’t overly sloppy or didn’t have that typical look like the foot was off the gas, but there was just that little let up. As good as the Wild have been in 2021, you can’t give them that glimmer of hope.
St. Louis might have been affected by fatigue. They had a late scratch nobody expected and were also coming off a hard series with Colorado, but they needed to stay sharp and didn’t throughout the entire game.
Pros: The captain
This is what you want out of your captain when he’s a forward. That’s no disrespect to the pevious “C” because he played on the blue line and it’s a different dynamic.
However, when your leader is a forward, you want him to pick up the team through both vocal aspects and to lead by example. You can’t ask more than what O’Reilly has given the Blues lately.
O’Reilly now has five goals and eight points in his last four games. These have not been junk goals either, scoring three against Colorado and two on this night, including that game winner.
And the composure he showed on that OT goal. Other guys, or even O’Reily earlier in the season, get amped up and hit the goalie or sky the shot. He’s feeling it now and just calmly tucked it in.
This was not a fantastic performance, start to finish. There were plenty of gaps, gaffes and blown plays. Zach Sanford continues to be a turnover machine at the worst possible times. He failed to get it out of the zone on the Wild’s tying goal.
Overall, there was plenty to like in this game. Clearly, any time you get five goals, you’ve gotta be happy with the offense.
Jordan Kyrou was sharp, despite getting roughed up a couple times. He did not score, but came up with two big assists.
What really had to make you feel good was how the Blues won. Whether you want to say the team in general or specify Kyrou, the fact remains that the pass to set up the winning goal is not made earlier in the year. Kyrou would have waited and waited until everyone was out on the ice and set up.
Now that the team has confidence, he simply saw O’Reilly hit his stride off the bench and snapped the pass to him. It’s a relatively simple play, but one the Blues have not pulled off with regularity because they never felt comfortable or familiar enough with the guys on the ice.
Husso had another strong game. I’d like to see him stop the third Minnesota goal, but there was a screen. Nobody is saving the first two goals.
Overall, it was just a very good win for the Blues. Nothing spectacular about it as a 60 minute performance, but great plays sprinkled in there and solid play for the most part.
Now that the win streak has reached four, the Blues just need to keep things in stride. They got their starter some rest for Saturday and everyone can hit the ground running for the last eight games.