The St. Louis Blues were looking to win their fourth game in a row and end the Canadian portion of their road trip with a win. However, the Vancouver Canucks always play the Blues pretty tough and they were trying to keep their resurgence going, winning four of their last six.
The Canucks got off to the hot start, helped by an early penalty against Colton Parayko. The Blues kept their penalty kill looking solid as it has in recent times, only allowing two shots and keeping Vancouver off the board.
Still, the Blues were being hemmed in their own zone quite a bit. Vancouver had seven of the game’s first eight shots on goal.
Parayko took a second penalty not too long after the first. The Blues allowed another two shots, but no goals.
That PK seemed to finally get them woken up. The offense came to life and had three great looks at net, though Jordan Kyrou put two of those wide.
Nevertheless, the Blues offense started clicking. They were hitting some good passes and getting into the flow.
On the Blues lone power play, frankly, it should have been St. Louis taking the lead. Brayden Schenn was set up perfectly for a one-timer on the right circle, but he clanked it off the crossbar. Ultimately, the period ended 0-0.
The second period was a lot of back and forth. Even when the shots were not hitting the net, the teams seemed to trade chances one after the other.
St. Louis would get on the board first. After a solid shift and a shot blocked from Nick Leddy, the Blues defender fed it back to Kyrou who whipped it in from the right circle.
St. Louiw was playing with fire with a few miscues in the middle of the ice and eventually, they paid the price. Vancouver took one from the neutral zone and Ilya Mikheyev sped in, just snuck around Jordan Binnington and backhanded it in for a 1-1 game.
The Blues were not tied very long. Nathan Walker snapped one past the goaltender from the right circle as well to make it 2-1 just 38 seconds later.
St. Louis kept pushing after that as well. They earned a power play and, though it was a little clunky and out of sorts, they kept the puck in a couple times and once established, they found Robert Thomas for the goal and a 3-1 lead in the final two minutes of the period.
Vancouver was given a too many men penalty late in the period and the Blues nearly set up a play that might have scored, but the buzzer came before they could complete the pass. St. Louis would not be denied though as they did score on the power play to open the third, getting another laser shot from Kyrou.
The top line for St. Louis was just buzzing all night. Kyrou got his hat trick goal at 9:19 of the period, giving him a four-point night. It was a crazy tic-tac-toe play from Vladimir Tarasenko to Robert Thomas to Kyrou on the back door.
Despite being down by four goals, the Canucks never really quit. They led the Blues in shots almost the whole way, but a flurry of saves by Binnington in the final three minutes exemplified what kind of night it was for the home team.
The boo birds, or boonucks if you will, came out at the end of the game. It’s not surprising since the Canucks have lost more home games (5) by the score of 5-1 than any team in the league according to SportsNet.
A hat trick basically speaks for itself. Kyrou is just a man on fire right now.
Three goals in this game and he might have had more if not for those early game misses. Three goals is still good enough.
The shots he unleashed were just fantastic too. Two of them were lasers and the second was reminiscent of Brett Hull.
The back door goal was more about the passing than Kyrou, but it was still a good finish. It also showcased his ability to get to other places on the ice.
Kyrou scored from all over. He got one from the right, the middle and the left. He’s not a one-trick pony and the confidence will hopefully carry him the rest of the season.
Cons: Lots of shots allowed
It wasn’t quite the 40-plus allowed the last time Thomas Greiss was in goal, but Binnington was surely tested in this game. The Blues did not allow a ton of grade-A chances, but they’re still letting a lot of pucks get through.
At this juncture in the season, we just have to accept that. The Blues just need wins, whether they’re scoring seven goals, winning 1-0 or letting their goaltender’s get shelled.
In the grand scheme of things, 34 isn’t a ridiculous number of shots. However, getting outshot is not your average recipe for winning, much less winning by four goals.
Pros: Special teams
It has been steadily improving on both sides of the coin, but it’s hard to remember the last time the Blues had a really good special teams game for the power play and penalty kill. Most of the time one or the other just kind of lucked into a decent night.
It’s amazing what having some actual practice time can do for a team. Ever since they finally had a couple days off to work on these things, the penalty kill has definitely gotten things turned around.
Killing off those two first period penalties in the first 10 minutes was paramount to giving the Blues a chance. Even if you only allow 1, which would have been understandable, that changes the complexion of the game.
They killed off two other penalties later in the game. Binnington was sharp on the PK as well, getting himself engaged in this game early.
The power play was the surprise. It has been up and down, but the fact they’ve finally established themselves.
They’re getting set up in the zone, they’re not getting every other pass picked off and that forces defenses to play more compact. It doesn’t hurt that guys like Thomas are actually shooting the puck, which also forces defenses to not just commit to blocking passing lanes.
This was a slightly odd game. Though the Blues won 5-1, it didn’t feel like a dominating victory.
That said, it didn’t feel all that close either. I think what made the game so different was the number of Vancouver looks.
Binnington did not have to stand on his head, but he still had to make some quality saves. It was also just a seesaw game.
There was some good flow to most of the contest. Neither team really got hemmed into their own zone for long stretches of the game.
St. Louis just buried a large majority of their chances, though they did miss some too. Vancouver gave a good effort from my point of view (perhaps not their own fans), but they’re just not clicking.
St. Louis now crosses the border and plays in Seattle less than 24 hours later in yet another back-to-back. Let’s hope they give a little more defensive help to Greiss (assuming he’s in) than the last time out, but as I said – wins matter more than how it happened right now.