The St. Louis Blues were hoping that a little trip north of the border would cure what ailed them in Anaheim. Unfortunately, the game played out quite similar to how things went against the Ducks.
The Blues would open the game with some energy and some jump, but it never really materialized into anything. The offense did not generate nearly enough and the decent start didn’t amount to much.
In fact, the Jets got themselves back into the game rather quickly and the Blues were fortunate to hold them at bay. The only reason the Blues had a lead at the first intermission was because their power play continued to click.
The Jets penalty kill has struggled and the Blues took advantage. While the first unit looked sluggish, the second unit showed some speed and it was Pavel Buchnevich to break the deadlock and give the Blues a lead.
The Blues were sloppy with the puck, but saw the lead into the break and hoped to build on that. Sadly, that was the last time the team played solidly for any length of time.
The second period was quite abysmal for the Note. They got out shot 17-5 and you would be hard pressed to call those five shots that great of a chance to score.
As the period went along, the Blues were clearly losing steam. The defense was regularly backing in, inviting pressure.
Jordan Binnington was making quality saves, but you could tell the Blues needed to get the next goal or the game would shift as it did against the Ducks. The Blues did not get the next goal.
The Jets would score a bad goal to tie it a little over midway through the period. It was not a bad goal on Binnington since he never saw it, but the entire play should not have happened.
Scandella needed to block it, but he tried to hide behind a tree and turned his body. If nothing else, glove the thing down or away.
The Blues continued their spotty play in the third. They had a little more umph, but they just could not establish themselves in the offensive zone.
Despite some valiant efforts by the Blues goalie, the Jets would grab the lead. After some weak down low defending by Calle Rosen, the puck popped out and Winnipeg buried it into an empty net with Binnington on his belly.
Despite the poor overall play, the Blues kept battling. Buchnevich pushed forward with a strong bull rush and fed Kyrou for a one timer and a 2-2 game with under eight minutes to go.
The Blues continued to rely on their goaltender. The next two or three shifts were all in the Blues zone and they did not even have a chance to clear.
By the time 60 minutes were done, nothing had been decided. The Blues did not look like a team that was going to win, but had given themselves a chance for two points by forcing overtime.
Oddly, the Blues found themselves in overtime at three-on-three. They created several chances, forcing plenty of saves and clanking one off the post too.
It seemed as though the shootout would end the same way as it did the last time. The Blues simply look incapable of scoring.
Fortunately, Binnington carried his stellar play from regulation into the shooutout. He stopped every Jets player and Ryan O’Reilly buried an unbelievable backhander and the Blues held on for a 3-2 win.
This game was about as far from pretty as you could get for the Blues. It was a mess all around.
The Blues were out shot and out chanced except for the first period and in the overtime. It was a bad performance by the almost everyone in terms of actual precision and execution.
Nevertheless, the Blues battled and overcame. That is the mark of a good team when you can win when you are not even close to your best.
St. Louis got flashes from individuals. Kyrou, Buchnevich, Tarasenko and a few others had very good shifts here and there.
It was the team’s ability to get past their failures that proved to be the difference.
For the second game in a row – perhaps more overall – the Blues passing was just really poor. Perhaps it is not correct to say the passing in and of itself, but the decision making was horrendous.
While Justin Faulk didn’t have a terrible game, the team’s poor decision making was exemplified in the third period. He tried a long pass from his blue line to the far side to the attacking blue line. There was absolutely nothing good that could happen from that pass.
Even if the one Blues player surrounded by three Jets fielded the puck, he couldn’t accomplish anything unless there was a football-style hook and ladder play. Instead, the Blues gave up a rush the other way and the Jets almost capitalized on it.
That was just one of dozens of passes that made no sense. The Blues have to clean things up. If your goaltender was not playing out of his mind, those plays will the Blues in the long run.
What more can you say about this guy. At this point, it doesn’t matter if he’s just on or if this is the player he will be all the time or if this is just to get himself the starting role for Team Canada.
The bottom line is that Binnington is the first, second and third reason the Blues won this game. When the Blues were at their worst, he was still at his best.
Binnington was almost as good in Los Angeles, but laid an egg in the shootout. He refused to make the same mistake here, shutting down four Jets players to seal the win for his team.
Like the team, even Binnington had to battle at times. Even then, he made it look easy.
This is one of those games where you’re happy if nobody asks if the Blues deserved to win. If nothing else, you need to get philosophical about the definition of the word deserve.
Ultimately, it would have been a fair result if the Jets won this game. They were creating a ton of chances and the Blues were just trying to withstand it all.
However, sometimes it all boils down to singular performances. In this one, it was Binnington who almost single-handedly won the game for St. Louis.
Yes, you needed the goals from Kyrou and Buchnevich and those were quality set ups and finishes. If not for the team’s goaltender, this would have been over in the second period – it was that bad from St. Louis.
The Blues continue to not perform for an entire 60 minutes. They were decent in the first and reasonably good in the latter half of the third. They were actually excellent in the overtime.
You’d still give the edge to Winnipeg over the course of 60 minutes, but it’s ok to steal one now and then. We just have to hope that a home game against Nashville and maybe a healthy body or two will return a sharper team to the ice.