The St. Louis Blues, on paper, came into their 17th game of the season as the heavy favorite to win. They had a five-game win streak in their back pocket and the Anaheim Ducks had the fewest wins in the league.
You never know how these things will play out though. All it takes is an off night or a poor start.
The Blues were determined to not let that happen in the early part of the game. They were on their toes and getting their offense running.
We saw why Anaheim gives up the most shots in the league. St. Louis has struggled to get shots on goal early in games, but they had the first six shots of the game and hit double digits a little over halfway through the period.
The Blues also got on the board first. After a hit from Ivan Barbashev jostled the puck loose, Brayden Schenn found Justin Faulk with a nice pass and then Faulk’s shot was deflected by Noel Acciari for a 1-0 lead about 13 minutes in.
The Blues picked up their physicality too. After the Barbashev hit, Acciari got in on the act, blowing up a Ducks player and the bottom two lines were taking the body quite a bit.
The Blues closed out the period strong. Robert Thomas made an unbelievable pass through traffic to find Pavel Buchnevich for a 2-0 lead.
St. Louis opened the second just as well. Just over a minute in, Buchnevich scored his second of the game and it was 3-0.
It didn’t stay that way for long. The Blues seemed like they were getting too loose defensively, but a quick transition ended with a Brayden Schenn deflected goal and a 4-0 lead with still 15 minutes to go.
St. Louis couldn’t help but try to keep things interesting. A penalty against St. Louis ended with an unstoppable Ducks power play goal to make it 4-1.
The Blues restored their four-goal lead with a power play goal of their own. Similar to the Cam Fowler goal, the Blues got it out to Torey Krug in the middle and he slammed it up high to make it 5-1. All of this happened before the halfway mark.
The third period was a little uneventful to start. If anything, the Blues took their foot off the gas, which was disappointing since they had chased John Gibson out of the goal.
St. Louis got a little lazy with their footwork. That led to a penalty and the Ducks scored another power play goal, this time getting a tip off a shot from the point to make it 5-2.
The Blues were still a bit sloppy after that. They were allowing too many high-quality chances, which Jordan Binnington was able to keep out.
Fortunately, the Blues capitalized the next time they had a grade-A chance. Jordan Kyrou came in with Robert Thomas on a two-on-one and Thomas snapped it in for a 6-2 lead.
Things got testy at the end of the game. Anaheim looked to be trying to pick some fights and eventually Tyler Tucker stepped up and dropped the gloves.
For two non-rivals, this was an oddly chippy game. Some of it may boil down to playing eachother again in two days, but the Blues won this one 6-2.
Pavel Buchnevich has been on fire of late. Whether it’s getting goals or assists, he’s been doing it all.
He picked up two assists against both San Jose and Colorado. He scored against Washington and then added two goals against the Ducks.
That gives him three goals in the last two games and eight points in six games. He doesn’t get statistical credit for his shootout goal to beat Washington, but that’s another big moment for him.
The interesting thing is he does it so nonchalantly. It’s not flashy or highlight reel stuff.
He just gets the job done. His first goal was just a nice snap shot off the great pass and the second goal was a fantastic backhander into the top portion of the net.
Getting two goals on any night is great. When the Blues are missing the threat of Vladimir Tarasenko, it’s even more important for someone like Buchnevich to step up.
Cons: Penalty kill
The odd thing about this is that the penalty kill wasn’t all that bad in terms of effort. Statistically, it wasn’t a great night.
The Blues allowed two power play goals on four penalty kill attempts. That’s not terrible, but it’s not great.
What was slightly concerning was the fact both goals came on similar plays. The shot came from distance and either traffic in front or a deflection led to the score.
Binnington could not do a thing about either one. The Ducks’ first goal was not even seen by the netminder. The second one was a clear tip that completely changed the trajectory.
The worrying thing was that neither shot was contested. Yes, you have one fewer player, but the closest Blues player was several feet away from the shot taker. You’d like to see more puck pressure on those plays.
For the second game in a row for Binnington, and the third game for the Blues, the goaltender was a big reason the Blues won. He wasn’t needed quite as much early, but St. Louis relied on him late.
The team clearly took their foot off the gas. Binnington only had to make five saves in the entire first period, but needed to be sharp from then on.
It was a mixed bag in the second period, with some shots being hard to stop and others somewhat simple. Many of the ones in the third period were grade-A looks and Binnington needed to be sharp and he was.
He did allow the one power play goal but, as mentioned, there was no chance to stop that. The Blues need to do a better job of helping their goalie, but at least he’s doing his job.
This was another solid win, especially considering the Blues had more jumbled lines with Colton Parayko still out with injury and Vladimir Tarasenko out with illness. It’s good to see chemistry developing even under those circumstances.
The worrying thing is that the team still can’t play an entire 60 minutes. Maybe we focus too much on that as fans, but you need to stomp these kinds of teams and not give them any hope.
They let the Ducks have too much hope late in the game and also a belief they might have a shot on Monday. The Blues have no business losing to this team, but now they’ve given Anaheim some hope.
The first period was about as good as they’ve played. The defense was tight and didn’t allow anything.
The offense was decent, scoring the two goals. They could’ve been better, missing some open chances.
Things completely reversed in the third with the Blues giving up 13 shots and only having five of their own. You can’t rely on stopping your opponent that much, so they have to find ways to get their own game going in those moments.
It’s a good win. It extends the team’s streak to six in a row, almost completely reversing their losing streak.
However, there are still cracks in the Blues game. They’re overcoming them right now, but it could still make problems later.