With the world starting to come to a halt again in places, it almost felt odd for the St. Louis Blues to actually be playing. Ok, that’s a bit excessive since there were five other games in the league other than the Blues and the Dallas Stars, but it’s starting to feel weird again.
Keeping the focus on the ice, this was a slow moving period at the start. In the first 10 minutes or so, neither team really generated much at all.
Both teams got a little more involved as the period went on, but the finishing was non-existent. This benefitted the Blues as a charge down the right wing got Charlie Lindgren swimming, but the Stars could not get the puck back in front.
The Blues outshot the Stars, but it didn’t feel like that. The giveaways in the defensive zone were worrying.
That continued in the second. In the first minute of the period, Lindgren had to make a great left pad save to keep the game scoreless.
The Blues turned things around with a little more push. Before four minutes had elapsed, Logan Brown burst back in front from the goal line and slipped one through the five hole and a 1-0 lead.
St. Louis had plenty of chances after that, but wasted them all. During a Dallas power play, the Blues had two breakout attempts, including a two-on-one with Pavel Buchnevich and Ivan Barbashev, but they made too many passes each time.
St. Louis had another odd man rush late in the period. This time, it was a four-on-two and they made too many passes again, not even generating a shot.
Marco Scandella took a tripping penalty shortly after that. The Blues, again, benefitted from a hesitant Stars team as they passed or held up on a couple looks, allowing everyone to get into position.
Heading toward intermission, it looked as though the period would end 1-0. Instead, Vladimir Tarasenko snuck one past the glove side in the final minute of the period to gain a 2-0 lead.
It felt as though the Blues would need that insurance since they had blown so many chances in the period. That continued to be a worry in the third.
Buchnevich failed to get a shot on another odd man rush and a breakaway. He got a penalty shot too and came up empty.
The Stars cut the lead in half on a lucky play. A rebound off the right pad went directly to a wide open Dallas player on the side of the net and he buried it.
Thankfully, the Blues weathered the storm after that goal. While they were hemmed into their own zone, they drew a penalty.
St. Louis continued to pass up some chances on the power play. A Buchnevich cross-ice pass hit Tarasenko and he snapped in his second goal of the game for a 3-1 score.
Dallas emptied their net and generated a quality look. Jamie Benn, my arch enemy, was stuffed by Lindgren on the doorstep and then Ivan Barbashev buried one into the empty net for a 4-1 win.
During the flow of the game, there was very little wrong with Pavel Buchnevich. When he was on some breaks, where he normally flourishes, he screwed up big time.
I don’t know if it’s because of the amount of cycling the Russian line has been doing or what, but Buchnevich and his teammates almost refused to shoot the puck.
The Blues, Buchnevich specifically, almost refused to shoot the puck on an odd-man rush. Even when Buchnevich had a breakaway, he waited too long so that he got poke checked by the goaltender.
You could fault Buchnevich on the penalty shot, but at least he made a decent move. It wouldn’t have counted as a shot since it went wide of the net, but at least he tried there.
Even his assist on the Tarasenko goal, he had a chance to take the shot. You’ll take the goal no matter how it comes, but it was strange to not even hint at a shot.
Overall, it was just puzzling. The guy is tied for the lead in goals for the Blues and he suddenly wanted to be a play maker instead.
He’s just raising his trade value, right? Give me a break.
Tarasenko is back and the Blues are better for it. We should all be thanking our stars that Doug Armstrong had the sense to not just take any random offer in the summer.
The Blues only needed two goals to win this game, but they needed all the insurance they could get. For Tarasenko to score two big goals in this one, he was a huge reason they won.
If nothing else, Tarasenko was the only member of the Russian line that actually wanted to shoot the puck. Tied for the team lead in goals after 30 games is pretty good.
I still believe we should not get too excited about Lindgren. The guy has been playing extremely well, but it’s hard to tell how much you should buy into that.
However, regardless of whether this is for real or he’s a flash in the pan, Lindgren is now in Blues history. He’s the first goaltender to be undefeated in his first five games with the team.
Think about that for a moment. Even as hot as Jordan Binnington was during his start, he was not unblemished in his first five games.
Lindgren is 5-0 to start his Blues career. He’s been the first star of the game, at least in the arena, for two games in a row too.
You could argue that Lindgren was not overly bothered in the game in Dallas, but he took some pressure in this one. Though Dallas only finished with 27 shots, there were many that were in prime real estate and Lindgren had to be well positioned or athletic to make the stop.
It will be interesting to see what the Blues do once Ville Husso is healthy too, but that’s a worry for a different day.
The Blues continue to find ways to win, even if they don’t always deserve it. There were stretches throughout this game where they were not the better team, or at least they were the sloppier team.
If St. Louis was playing a team not in the midst of a four-game, now five game, losing streak, the outcome may have been different. Like the Blues, Dallas passed when they should have shot and also fumbled a couple looks right in the wheelhouse.
The Blues really benefitted from the Stars being so disjointed. However, whatever you chalk it up to, the Blues made the plays and the Stars did not.
The main worry for me was the amount of missed chances for the Blues. You strike early, but then fail to even generate a shot on so many opportunities in that second period. You’ve got to bury teams when you have the chance.
The end result never felt in too much doubt due to the Stars, but it never felt like the Blues had it by the neck either. At the end of the day, you take the two points, get ready to go on the road and be happy with what you got.
Tarasenko and Lindgren are still hot. Ryan O’Reilly is dominant in the faceoff circle again. St. Louis just needs more healthy bodies because eventually you won’t be able to count on all these young guys to keep bailing you out.