The St. Louis Blues had turned their stuff around against some pretty tough opponents over their three-game winning streak. The trap was to not let it slip away against a Chicago Blackhawks team that had begun slipping more to where most analysts thought they would be.
It was kind of a slow start between the two rivals in terms of the offense. Most of what Chicago got was due to some Blues carelessness.
Justin Faulk handed the puck over to Chicago and that led to an almost sure goal on a backdoor play. Jordan Binnington bailed him out with a spectacular glove save.
Binnington was solid overall in the first period. Though he wasn’t tested all that often, he still faced quality shots.
Interestingly, the Blues struck first. After so many bad luck plays against them, they finally got some good luck as Calle Rosen banked one off a Chicago defender to make it 1-0.
St. Louis looked more comfortable in the second period, which was another change from what we’ve seen throughout the season. They took a 2-0 lead when Jordan Kyrou scored after outwaiting the defenders and the goaltender before sliding one in.
One little hiccup set off a chain of scoring though. A turnover in neutral ice eventually led to a Chicago goal when there was nobody to guard the middle and it was essentially a breakaway.
The Blues ended up with a two-on-one during a penalty kill and Ryan O’Reilly kept his resurgence going by scoring on his own rebound. That was deserved after the penalty was because a Blackhawks player literally ran into Pavel Buchnevich who was simply standing on the blue line.
Unfortunately, the Blues could not kill off the entirety of the penalty. Chicago snapped one under Binnington’s blocker to make it 3-2.
St. Louis restored their two-goal lead with the fourth line. Tyler Pitlick scored his first as a member of the Blues and it was 4-2.
St. Louis got a late power play in the second, but didn’t do much with it. After that was over, they almost scored, ringing one off the post before shooting right into the goalie.
It came down to the third period. The Blues just needed to hold on and close out the road win.
There were moments where the Blues were sloppy with the puck. When you’re ahead, you don’t want that kind of stuff to creep in since one goal can turn the momentum.
However, the Blues calmed themselves down. Ivan Barbashev added to the Blues total, faking one way and then scoring on the forehand to make it 5-2.
The Blues finished the game off strong. They killed a late power play for Chicago and ran their winning streak to four games.
St. Louis did a good job of quieting the Blackhawks later in the game. However, when St. Louis was shaky, they needed their goalie to step up.
Binnington did just that. We all know Jordan isn’t going to play every single game this season the way he has during this stretch, but this is much more of the Binnington we expected when the Blues gave him a big contract.
The naysayers will point to this or that, but this isn’t a flash in the pan. He has merely needed to find his consistency.
Binnington’s save early in the game was a prime example. We can say the Chicago guy waited too long, but Binner knew where the shot would likely go and positioned his glove perfectly.
Stopping 24 shots doesn’t sound all that impressive. He was busier than the totals would lead you to believe and he stepped up right when the team needed him most.
Cons: Sloppy at times
You can pick and choose who you want to blame for certain plays. Personally, I blame Robert Thomas for a stupid drop pass on the second goal allowed.
Others blame Justin Faulk for being way too far north while on the penalty kill. Regardless, the Blues are still making some costly blunders.
Faulk was involved in the play that led to Binnington’s marvelous save. While we got a great highlight out of it, that might have turned the game in the complete opposite direction if that goes in.
St. Louis still has far too many turnovers at either blue line. That’s always the worst spot because all your teammates are going forward and it’s too hard to hit the breaks and go the other way.
The defense did its job and Binnington did the rest. You’ll have moments like those in every game, but it just worries more when it was such a trend during that losing streak.
Pros: More hot streaks
While the team is on a hot streak overall, it’s good to see the guys we were all starting to doubt show up. Even as someone who keeps the faith longer than most, I was starting to lose some in O’Reilly and Kyrou.
Their goals were exactly what you want out of both. They came in completely opposite ways, but fitting of each star.
Kyrou showed great patience. Earlier in the season, he fires that a second early or later and hits someone or misses the net. He released that puck at the perfect time to split all the traffic and give nobody a chance.
O’Reilly has been gripping the stick all year. Now, he looks comfortable and confident and actually shot the puck and went for his own rebound. Earlier in the year, he dishes that puck and nothing comes of it.
The captain has points in three straight and goals in three of five. Kyrou is now the team’s leading goal scorer and has goals in three of the last four.
This was somewhat of an odd game. In some ways, it didn’t have the feel of a 5-2 win and in some ways it did.
It never felt like the Blues were in complete control, which you might think it did with a three-goal win. On the other hand, except when it was 2-1, you didn’t really get the feeling the Blackhawks were going to make a comeback.
St. Louis was not dominant or flashy. They were steady and just stuck to the program.
They got the big saves they needed when they needed them. They also got the timely goals and could have had a couple more if they capitalized a couple other times.
Despite my earlier complaint, it was nice to see the moms there. Dad’s are great and it’s funny to see an older guy’s night out, but to see a mom be proud of her son after all their sacrifice is just different.
Beating the Blackhawks is always fun. I don’t care if they’re the defending champs or a bottom feeder – it’s always nice to take down your rival.
It’s not as intense now as it was a few years ago. It’s also odd seeing so many Blues fans in United Center when they used to take over 1/3 of our arena.
Whatever the case, it was a solid win. Good offense, steady defense and quality goaltending. That’s all a recipe for success.