The St. Louis Blues came into their 16th game of the 2021-22 season on a four-game losing streak. In a short time, they had fallen from first place in the division to fourth place.
In theory, facing the San Jose Sharks would be good for St. Louis. The Sharks are in the bottom three of the Pacific Division.
Yet, facing San Jose is rarely an easy feat for the Blues. Things didn’t start that great either.
The Blues came out with good jump and got some early chances. Despite outshooting San Jose in the first eight minutes, the Blues were empty handed.
It seemed as though the Blues had allowed the first goal of the game. Fortunately that poor goal, the result of no backcheck and an open five-hold, was called back for offside after a video review.
The Blues seemed to settle in after that. Tyler Bozak earned a power play not long after that play, though the initial worry was he might be injured due to how he went into the boards.
The St. Louis power play went to work right away and Vladimir Tarasenko got stoned two or three times. The tic-tac-toe passes continued and eventually, Brandon Saad buried a rebound to grab the 1-0 lead.
St. Louis continued to push, but failed to break through a second time in the first 20 minutes. Though they were the better team, the worry was another game where they failed to capitalize early.
Fortunately, the Blues came to play in the second period. Not long after the middle frame began, Scott Perunovich drove down the ice and eventually the puck found Robert Thomas for a deflection goal and a 2-0 lead.
St. Louis almost took a 3-0 lead moments later. A great pass through the seam hit Saad’s stick and only a great blocker save prevented that goal.
Things got loose after that. San Jose cut the lead in half when Ulf Dahlen‘s son found a soft spot in the slot and slipped home a goal.
Blues fans were not sad long as Saad came to the rescue. Oskar Sundqvist drove down the left wing and made a nice cross-ice pass and Saad one-timed it in to restore a two-goal lead.
St. Louis was clicking for the rest of the period. Still, it remained just a two goal game.
That didn’t last too long as the Blues got another early-period goal. A stretch pass found Jordan Kyrou on the left wing and he snapped one in from the circle and a 4-1 game.
The third period went by without a goal. Still, it was a solid period of play by the Blues and a good showing overall.
It would have been nice to get one more, but it was a good game to end the streak.
Saad has been a little hot and cold in his brief time with the Blues, but that’s the life of a goal scorer. You’re going to have hot streaks and some games where you disappear.
For his part, Saad has continued to work. He manages to get in close and present himself as a nuisance even when he’s not scoring.
In this game, he showcased his skill. It still boils down to work, but Saad had to get things done.
On the first goal, a lot of it was about the play leading up. Saad was mostly in a good position and had his stick in the right place to get a rebound.
The second goal was even more impressive. Saad got himself into a great place, fielded a fantastic pass and put the right amount of elevation on the shot to get his second goal of the game.
At this juncture, Saad is going to wish the Blues could face the Sharks every game. In two games against San Jose, Saad now has four goals.
Considering he has five goals on the year, the more the Blues face San Jose, the better Saad will be.
Cons: Tarasenko not scoring
Don’t take this one the wrong way. Tarasenko had a quality game.
It was not by any lack of effort or attempts. Tarasenko was definitely working.
Tarasenko had a really solid game in the offensive end. He created so much and just came up empty.
Vladi led all players on either side in shots. Tarasenko put seven pucks on net and had a handful of other opportunities.
Tarasenko took Wayne Gretzky‘s saying of you don’t score on all the shots you don’t take to heart.
Unfortunately, he was not rewarded for all the shots he did take.
Ville Husso was not overly tested in this contest. Though he faced 27 shots, the Blues did a decent job of keeping the Sharks at bay and blocking many of their chances.
That said, Husso looked calm and confident. The Blues needed him early on too.
St. Louis was shaky in the opening portions of the game, allowing a lot of back and forth. Husso had to stand his ground.
His best save came on a scramble in tight. He took away the low portion of the net with his body and made a quality glove save.
Even though the shots came sporadically, Husso was in good position all night. Except for the goal that was called offside, Husso challenged shooters all night and was on top of his crease.
If he continues to play as he has his last two outings, maybe he’ll shut up all those fools that say the Blues need to find another backup for the stretch run.
While it’s great to get a win, we do have to keep in mind who the Blues faced. No offense, but the Sharks are a shadow of the team that gave them fits in the previous decade.
That said, it’s a victory and that has to count for something. The Blues did exactly what they failed to do against Arizona – beat a team they should beat.
The interesting thing is they went against the conventional Craig Berube style. Normally, the Blues are a quality over quantity team when it comes to shots.
In this game, it was all about pucks on net. St. Louis finished with almost 50 shots and never really let up in this game.
This was much closer to what we should expect from the Blues rather than what they’ve shown the previous four games. Now, they just need to continue it on Saturday night against the Dallas Stars.