The St. Louis Blues faced the Montreal Canadiens for the first time in over two years. While there was not much fanfare about much of the game, it was another solid performance by an undermanned team for St. Louis.
St. Louis and Montreal just kind of floated back and forth for much of the rest of the period. The Blues had the more frequent chances, but Montreal should have tied it.
A turnover in the offensive zone led to a two-on-one for Montreal. The puck rolled on the stick of the shooter, otherwise it would have been 1-1 after 20 minutes. Instead, the Blues held the lead.
St. Louis pressed a little more in the second period and got rewarded for it. Their first power play went by the wayside with little to show for it, but it got some momentum.
The next time the Blues got on the power play, they made it count. Another Tarasenko assist led to the third goal, this time with another Russian finishing it off when Ivan Barbashev got his 10th goal of the season.
St. Louis didn’t sit back and let the Canadiens come at them once they got on the board though. St. Louis got right back at it and then scored on another power play.
With everyone bunched on the right, the puck came to Torey Krug on the left. He smashed it glove side and regained the three-goal lead.
The Blues closed it all out the rest of the way. They finished with a 4-1 win and their seventh home win in a row.
Pros: Joshua’s goal
The thing we often forget about depth players is how talented they are. We label guys as grinders or muckers because that’s what they’ve had to do to earn a seat at the NHL table.
Yet, at some point in their playing career, every guy that suited up in the NHL (especially in today’s game) was the most talented guy on the ice. That was true of Dakota Joshua somewhere and he brought that skill to bare in this game.
Joshua almost got his second goal midway through the third period and it was a nice little drag to the backhand. The goal he scored was even more skillful.
I don’t care if you’re a fourth line player or one of the best in the NHL. Just look at the area that Joshua had to work with.
When he fields the puck, he’s barely outside of the crease. In that tight a space, he goes backhand to forehand, avoids Jake Allen‘s stick and holds on just long enough to tuck it around the pad all before he crashes into the net himself.
That goal seemed implausible just due to the lack of space. It showed that, even though he’s not currently an NHL regular, that Joshua still has the mitts and know how to score a pretty goal just like anyone
It’s amazing how well a player can play and still be disliked by a certain section of the fandom. While there was none after this game to my knowledge, there are still people out there that post on social media that Tarasenko isn’t scoring so the Blues should dump or bench him.
Nevermind that he’s still impacting the offense. He has looked like the Vladi of old when combined with this all-Russian line.
While Tarasenko did fail to score on a breakaway in the third, he still was a big reason for two goals.
The first goal, Tarasenko backhanded it through traffic in the slot to an open Buchnevich on the right. Buchnevich had the quality finish on his own rebound, but the pass set him up to get multiple looks.
Similarly, it was a fantastic setup by Vladi to get Barbashev’s goal. He waited just that extra moment to drag a defender to him, find Barbashev in the slot for a one-timer and a two-goal lead at the time.
Tarasenko is still a goal scorer and we’d all like him to have more. However, he’s on pace for a career high in assists and Tarasenko looks as happy as we’ve seen in quite some time.
There really was not much to complain about in this game. The Blues had a few lulls here and there and a couple individuals disappeared now and then, but as a team they focused and got it done.
The Canadiens are one of the worst teams in the league currently, but St. Louis has struggled with the bottom feeders. That was not the case here.
Lindgren was steady in net and, based on his words after the game, felt like he had something to prove to his former team. The Russian line continued to hum like a well oiled machine.
The only downfall of this game was that Jordan Kyrou did not finish the game. He did not play at all in the third period and while we can hope it was a precaution, it seems unlikely he will not end up missing a game or more.
The power play continues to be a force to be reckoned with. As long as the Blues get their five-on-five goals, the power play is some sugar on top.
Unfortunately, the worry now is who will be available the next game against Anaheim with less than 24 hours turnaround.