The St. Louis Blues opened their 2022 quest for the Stanley Cup in the State of Hockey. You simply never know how playoff games are going to go, especially when they’re against rivals like the Minnesota Wild.
The game didn’t start too well for the boys in blue, or in this case white. St. Louis gave up the first two shots of the game in the first two minutes and then gave the Wild a power play with 18 minutes left on the clock.
The home crowd was electric. St. Louis needed a big kill to take a little air out of the building.
They got two a huge save by Ville Husso after a failure to clear the puck. Ivan Barbashev was then awarded a penalty shot after a shorthanded break, but he got stopped by Marc-Andre Fleury.
Things got physical after that, but the Blues got a power play shortly after. It seemed as though the Wild would get a kill as they were hounding the Blues and getting good clears. With some solid passing, the rebound eventually came to David Perron who scored on man advantage, with St. Louis taking a 1-0 lead.
The Blues went right back to the box after that goal, with Robert Bortuzzo going in. St. Louis killed that, but Husso had to be sharp again.
The game continued to be officiated oddly. Nick Leddy had his head checked into the boards and that went unpenalized, but Perron got called for grabbing someone’s face. Fortunately, the Blues killed off another one.
St. Louis pounced on another rebound to get their second of the game. Alexei Toropchenko kept the puck in the zone, Ryan O’Reilly got a shot from the top of the circle and then slid in his own rebound to make it 2-0.
The Blues took that lead into the locker room, though Minnesota had a good push in the final minute. The Wild came out early and dinged one off the post in the second though.
The Blues sustained a lot of pressure through the first half of the second period. While they kept themselves from getting out of position, they were under fire.
St. Louis created the odd chance here or there, but the offense just wasn’t getting going. Minnesota got yet another power play with about eight minutes left and the Wild hit another bar and got stoned by Husso a couple more times.
The game continued to be a penalty fest with the Blues going on the power play in the last five minutes. They did get another power play goal, with Perron scoring on almost an identical play to make it 3-0.
The Wild had another good push to end the period. Husso had to be on top of his game again, but kept the goose egg up there through 40 minutes.
Minnesota came out in the third on another power play when Justin Faulk took a late penalty. The Blues killed that off too and then got robbed of their own power play when the Wild got away with a delay of game call.
The penalties continued to accumulate with the Blues taking a holding call and then drawing a double-minor high sticking call. While the penalty had ended, the Blues cashed in again on the off wing play with Perron getting the hat trick.
It was more special teams down the stretch. St. Louis actually got to take the foot off the gas slightly because they had a four-goal cushion and were a man up.
Minnesota had a late breakout that Husso stopped. In the end, St. Louis held on for the 4-0 win.
It wasn’t comfortable the whole time, but it was a fantastic road playoff win.
You have to get good, if not great, goaltending to win in the NHL playoffs. While it’s only one game, the Blues definitely got that.
Ville Husso was one of the main reasons the Blues won this game. Yes, they needed the goals too, but Minnesota was peppering the net early and often.
Husso was very calm in the net. Unlike his counterpart, he was not flying around the crease like a house fly. He kept himself centered, at the correct depths and in a spot to make the recovery save on the times he needed.
It’s not often you get a shutout in general, much less a playoff game. This was the first time a Blues goalie got a shutout in their playoff debut and Husso earned it.
None of the penalty calls were phantom. Every one that was called, you saw what they saw.
That said, this is supposed to be the playoffs. I understand the officials wanting to set a tone just like the players do, but come on.
There were 12 power plays handed out. There were 16 total penalties handed out.
That’s ridiculous. You don’t want to let a series get out of hand in one game, but the amount of calls made in this game was just silly.
There wasn’t a ton of flow to the contest on either side because the whole thing was played on special teams.
Pros: Power play
If you’re going to have a special teams battle, you better win it. The Blues did just that.
They did not allow the Wild to score on any of their power plays. Conversely, the Blues scored on two of theirs and came within seconds of making it three out of their first four.
Interestingly, the Wild did a good job of clearing the puck in the early moments of all the power plays. Once the Blues got themselves established though, they always seemed to manage getting it in on net and then getting the rebound.
Some late power plays took the percentage down, but the Blues made the Wild pay for their penalties. Going into the game the Blues seemed to have the edge on special teams and they proved it in Game 1.
Frenchie Perron came up huge for the Blues in this game. Interestingly, it wasn’t his skill or his skating that did it.
Perron was in the right place at the right time. You love to see the dangles, but this is what playoff hockey is about.
Perron scored all three goals on rebounds on the off side. They were all almost identical to the other.
He scored two power play goals. If the hat-trick goal came just three seconds earlier, he would have had all three goals on the power play.
This was about as good a result as you could ask for from the Blues. They were far from perfect and still managed to take their opponent to task.
Going into this game, some on the radio were saying the Blues needed to get about three to four goals per game to keep up. Well, they did that and, technically, only needed the one.
You cannot depend on a shutout every night, but when your goaltender is playing that strongly, you’re not going to lose many. St. Louis took advantage of the penalties taken by Minnesota and also a slightly out of control Fleury.
If they keep that up, they’ll win this series for sure.
Defensively, the Blues could have been better. They allowed almost 40 (37) shots and plenty of those were good scoring chances.
That said, guys played hard and there were a good amount of playoff-style blocks. Husso bailed the team out a couple times, but the defense recovered quickly from their mistakes and didn’t let those compound.
Minnesota is going to come out hard in Game 2 and St. Louis has to be ready for that. You cannot hope for another shutout, so the Blues need to be mentally prepared to rebound from a goal or two being scored against them.
If St. Louis can keep their offensive efficiency up to par as they did in Game 1, it’ll be fine.