The St. Louis Blues took to the road after a five-game home stand where they won four and went to overtime in the last. Momentum seemed to be on their side and they had a couple players return from the covid list as the team hit the ice in Dallas.
All should have been great, right? Well, you never really know how a team will adjust to returning players, especially ones that have not been allowed to even skate in 10 or more days. Plus, the Dallas Stars were riding an eight-game home winning streak.
Despite this vague worry, the Blues opened up fairly well. They were denied by a good save in the first couple minutes and came up empty on their first power play, but had the better of the chances for the first five-plus minutes.
The Blues thought they had the first goal of the game when a rebound was put in by Michael Peca. The goal was initially ruled not good for a kicking motion, then they said there was no kicking but Dallas challenged for offside. All the flip flopping was for nothing as the puck did exit the zone, so it stayed 0-0.
Dallas started waking up a little after that. The worry from then on was that, despite having so few shots, the Stars would find a way to steal the first goal.
Charlie Lindgren was solid in net again in the first period. Though he was not challenged early, he faced some tough ones and turned them away with calmness. The teams went into the intermission scoreless.
Dallas came out strong in the second period. An early chance hit Lindgren right in the mask.
The Blues started clawing into the second and got another power play. The man advantage continued to look toothless and hapless, almost giving up a short handed three-on-one that didn’t materialize because of a bouncing puck.
As the second period wore on, the teams traded chances off the iron. Dallas really poured it on with under five left in the second period.
Lindgren made several quality saves in a row, but could not keep them all out. The Blues failed to clear the puck and kept absorbing pressure after Brandon Saad didn’t clear the puck and eventually Dallas slipped one in.
Thankfully, the Blues responded. Despite being part of the goal against due to his holding the puck too long behind his own net, Colton Parayko made up for it by tying the game.
The Blues flipped the script a little to start the third. With a good push into the zone, Justin Faulk blasted a shot toward the net. It appeared to be tipped, but it was by a defender. Regardless, the Blues were up 2-1 with plenty of time left in the game.
Minutes later, Vladimir Tarasenko had a breakaway but was stopped by a defender who was not called. Tarasenko flirted with an unsportsmanlike call with the fiery way he want after the official.
The Blues kept on the front foot, trying to avoid a push back from the Stars. Things got a little careless as a high stick knocked out Pavel Buchnevich‘s tooth and St. Louis got a four-minute power play.
It seemed as though St. Louis was going to waste the entire four minutes. However, after a timeout, St. Louis worked it around, Ryan O’Reilly swatted at a rebound and it went in off a Dallas skate for a 3-1 lead.
The Blues got a late power play when O’Reilly was tripped up while headed toward an empty net. Vladimir Tarasenko scored on a nice cross-ice set up and sealed off a 4-1 win.
You have to think that Charlie Lindgren knows every minute he plays with the Blues is an audition for another contract with a different team in 2022-23. If nothing else, he’s making the most of it so far.
Despite not facing many shots through the first half of the first period, Lindgren was under fire for a period and a half after that. Dallas barely had any shots at first, but finished the first with 10.
Dallas had a total of 12 in the second period alone. Through 40 minutes, Lindgren had made 21 saves and came quite close to getting a piece of the goal that was scored too.
Cons: Power play
The Blues scored on two power plays, so some might consider this picky. However, the reality is the man advantage was nothing of the sort for the Blues until late in the game.
For the last handful of games, the power play has simply looked off. Much of that can be chalked up to the roster upheaval, but the disappointing part is the lack of anything produced.
If you were getting chances and just not converting, that’s one thing. The Blues weren’t even getting good looks on their first two power plays in Dallas, which was a carry over from the Anaheim game.
It used to be a question of why you didn’t play the second unit instead of the first. Now, neither unit is capable of holding the zone for very long.
If not for the well timed timeout, the Blues may have been shut out on the power play. Hopefully a more restored lineup will return the high percentage power play.
This was definitely a game of ebbs and flows. That’s to be expected from a division rival.
Still, it made for nervous moments when the game flowed Dallas’ way. That was especially true when the Blues were dominating the first half of the first period.
It just had that feel where the Blues would be the better team and then allow the first goal on the third shot of the game, or something of that nature. Eventually, Dallas would score first, but by then, the Stars had grabbed the game by the scruff themselves.
Trading chances back and forth isn’t necessarily what you like to see as a fan, but it’s going to happen. The Stars are a better team than their record might suggest and their record is not bad at all to start.
The fact the Blues kept their nose in it was great. It was another unsung game for Vladimir Tarasenko, who continues to look great even if the goals aren’t there in the amounts fans want. He got a goal in this one, another assist and just looks as physically well as we have seen in years.
Lindgren kept the Blues in it when it was close. Faulk barely looked like he missed a shift, despite being out for well over a week.
Ideally, you wouldn’t allow 30-plus shots against. When your goalie is up to the task and you get the offense rolling, you take it in stride.
Also on the plus side, the Blues kept their opponent to two or fewer goals in regulation for the fourth straight game.
Blues fans better get used to the sight of the Stars. They’ll be in St. Louis on Friday and the Blues should expect a big push back.