The St. Louis Blues came off an impressive performance against the Vancouver Canucks at home. The question was whether they could sustain that on the road, especially facing the same team.
It was hard to tell how it would shake out during the first period. The Blues would look good on some shifts and not so much on others.
They absorbed too much pressure in the early going. It was a typical first period start where St. Louis couldn’t get any shots.
Fortunately, their defense was doing a pretty good job. Overall, the Canucks only had five shots throughout the first period.
Still, it was the pressure they had early that was worrying. The Blues found themselves later in the first and generated their own chances.
Vladimir Tarasenko had one of the best looks of the game. In typical Blues fashion, he got robbed with a glove save and the period ended 0-0.
It didn’t stay that way long. Just 31 seconds into the second period, the Canucks scored to take the lead.
St. Louis failed to win the faceoff and never seemed to get fully set after that. They ended up with two guys below the goal line, with one defender too high in the slot, leaving a lot of room for Alex Chiasson to go from the side of the net to the front and slot it in.
Nick Leddy keeps proving his worth. Scoring his first since arriving, Leddy snapped one in from the point to tie it 1-1.
The tie lasted only five minutes. Tarasenko made a bad pass through the middle that got deflected. The change in direction allowed Elias Pettersson to race in and score to make it 2-1.
It seemed like the game might slip away when Vancouver went on the power play. Instead, Robert Thomas tied it up with a shorthanded goal on a partial breakaway.
Less than two minutes later, the Blues claimed their first lead of the game. Ryan O’Reilly buried a tight-in shot from a nice setup from David Perron and the score was 3-2.
The Blues opened the third period pretty well. Vancouver came out hard themselves, but the Blues were not just sitting back, inviting pressure, as they do sometimes.
The one-goal lead seemed precarious, but Nathan Walker doesn’t mind those scenarios. The guy just seems to come up with big goals at the right time and he made it 4-2 around halfway through the third.
St. Louis could not make it a comfortable finish. The Canucks scored with under five minutes to go, just to make Blues fans sweat.
If you wanted to be picky, you could say there was no coverage in the slot, but Conor Garland came in late and that’s hard to track. Additionally, his shot was likely going wide, but it deflected in off Pettersson for his second of the night.
The Blues missed a couple long-distance empty nets. They held on for a 4-3 win though.
An interesting game for Vladi on this night. It was definitely a mixed bag.
Statistically, there was not much to speak of. He had no points and finished a minus-1.
Normally, nobody should care about plus/minus much. However, he was directly responsible for one of the Canucks goals.
It wasn’t the worst pass in the world, but Tarasenko needs to be aware of the situation. Even if he completes that pass, he’s hitting Robert Bortuzzo with a player in his face. That’s not the best outcome anyway. As it was, the puck got tipped and set up an open shot for one of Vancouver’s best scorers.
On the flip side, Tarasenko was still engaged and involved. He had three shots on goal and likely should have scored, if not for a big glove save. He also got two statistical hits, which likely means he was even more involved taking the body than that.
Cons: Allowing the first
Listen, you can’t prevent all goals against. If you could get a shutout every night or every other night, your goaltenders would be ecstatic.
That’s not possible. Also, you’re not going to score first every time.
Even with that in mind, it was disappointing to see the Blues get scored on first. They played so well in their previous game because they got the lead and could settle into their game.
In this game, they got the win, but it was more a hill to climb. Part of that hill was due to them having to come from behind, yet again.
Pros: O’Reilly line
There were lots of good shifts for different lines in this game. In the first period, the Tarasenko line was one of the best for either team.
Over the course of the game, the line with Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron was at, or near, the top. Those two players alone combined for four points.
O’Reilly was especially involved. He scored on the power play. It may not have held up as the game winning goal, but it was still important. It was also O’Reilly’s first ever against the Canucks.
O’Reilly also got a helper on Leddy’s goal. That goal was impactful as well, giving the Blues a little mental breather with the game tied.
O’Reilly has been a little quiet, especially scoring goals. It’s good to see him hitting stride at the right time.
This was not the best win of all time, but it was good enough. They’re not all going to be gems, but you have to win some squeakers, especially on the road.
You’d really like to see the Blues convert in the first period and take command. It would be so much better to play with the lead.
When you look over the course of the full 60 minutes, the Blues did well. It was also a solid win due to the fact the Blues had more guys out. Jordan Kyrou was missing due to an illness and that jumbled the lines more than you’d think given the Blues won their last one.
These were big wins though. While not mathmatically, the Blues essentially eliminated the Vancouver Canucks from the playoffs.
It was always going to be tough for them to make it, but they needed a good point swing against a team that was almost in reaching distance. Instead, St. Louis collected all four points and kept themselves in that guaranteed divisional spot.
On to Edmonton now, where the defense needs to keep playing well.