The St. Louis Blues held onto their positive vibes from their home win over the San Jose Sharks two days prior. They got off to a hot start against the Columbus Blue Jackets, which propelled them to a solid game.
Though the first 20 minutes was good overall, the Blues were slow to get started in terms of shots. Over seven minutes in, they only had one shot on goal until they scored.
Sammy Blais came down the right wing and fired a cross-ice pass to Brandon Saad at the back post. Though his initial deflection was stopped, he smacked in the rebound to make it 1-0.
The lead did not last long. Patrik Laine scored the one-timer from the left circle on the power play to make it 1-1 just about two minutes after St. Louis grabbed the lead.
The Blues finished strong, however. Robert Thomas gained the zone with speed and put it to the back door for a one-timer by Jordan Kyrou, restoring the lead with 6:22 left in the first period.
A turnover in the Columbus zone set the Blues up for a tic-tac-toe play. This time it was Saad setting up Blais on the right side to give St. Louis a 3-1 lead late in the first.
St. Louis had a ho-hum second period. Their power play continued to struggle, not really generating any chances.
Though they were not allowing a ton of shots, the chances against were getting of higher quality. Early on, Thomas Greiss had to make a left shoulder save on a shot in tight after the Blues failed to chip it up the wall to get it out of the zone.
The middle of the period was a lot of nothing. Columbus nearly scored in the final 70 seconds.
A bouncing puck was whiffed on near the crease, putting Greiss in an awkward spot and the puck behind him, but to the side of the net. The Blue Jackets almost banked it off him, but somehow the puck ended up under his leg instead of off his skate as he fell to his back. It remained 3-1 after 40.
St. Louis let Greiss be in a shooting gallery in the third period. In the first six minutes, they allowed 12 shots on goal and only had one themselves.
St. Louis was just not taking care of the puck in their zone. Greiss had to make several quality saves to keep the lead.
Similar to the team’s first goal, they added another in the third against the run of play. Alexei Toropchenko drove the net for the initial rebound shot that got stopped, but Kyrou jumped on the rebound, skated into the slot and made it 4-1.
With four and a half minutes left in the period, Columbus pulled their goalie. They finally scored on a tipped shot to make it 4-2.
St. Louis looked like they might blow the game. A ridiculous show of unselfishness by Toropchenko and Justin Faulk resulted in no shot on an empty net and Columbus going back the other way.
Eventually, the Blues did cap the game off. Kyrou got the empty net goal giving him a hat trick and the team a 5-2 win.
This is just a personal take, but I find it funny how much people are on board with Kyrou right now when he’s essentially Vladimir Tarasenko 2.0. The offense is potent, but sporadic and the defense is not there.
I’m fine with that, because historically, goalscorers aren’t known for defense. It’s more the hypocrisy of it.
Regardless, Kyrou had a fine game. Any night you get three goals, it’s a great night.
Yeah, having the third one as an empty net was a bit lessened, but at least he showed the shooter’s mentality. He didn’t try to send it back to Thomas and say you take it – he took the shot himself and buried it.
He was where he needed to be on the team’s fourth goal. He wasn’t necessarily getting his nose dirty, but he was in the mix and found the space for the shot.
The first goal (team’s second) was great skill. It was a great set up from Thomas, but you have to have the touch to finish. Even Craig Berube said Kyrou could have had more with the chances he created.
Cons: Third period start
Like Lou Korac stated on Twitter, the Blues seemed to be doing everything they could to let their goaltender be the number one star of the game. It was a ridiculous shooting gallery.
As mentioned, the Blue Jackets had 12 shots in the first 16 minutes. They finished the third period with 22 shots.
There are games when 22 shots might be your total for 60 minutes, especially when you have the worst record in the NHL like Columbus does. St. Louis surrendered that many in one period.
How? Why does the switch not flip for this team where they get fed up with this stuff and just shut things down?
Though the Blues earned the win, they also let Columbus have enough chances that a comeback was not out of the question. On another night, this game goes to overtime or the Blues cough it up in regulation.
37 saves on 39 shots. That’s almost enough said.
It wasn’t just the total number either. While he might not have had the highlight reel stop or some double-pad stack that drove the announcers wild, Greiss made several grade-A saves.
He definitely had to be on his toes in the third period. The lack of puck control made it so he had to almost expect the team to cough the puck up and it would lead to a shot against.
Greiss was on though. Theoretically, he could have had a shutout.
The only goals that got by him were on the power play or a deflected shot during six on five play.
This is one of those wins where you enjoy the fact they won, but it doesn’t do a lot for you. Columbus has the worst record in the league and you got outshot by them and let them have their way for long periods in the third.
The Blues are the better team, so you’re expected to win. Still, it’s a a no-win scenario.
If you win, you were supposed to. If you lose, it rubs salt in the wound that you lost to the worst team in the league.
However, when you only look at the score sheet, it’s not all that bad. St. Louis needed to be better on faceoffs and the power play continues to do nothing, but they won by three goals.
The two goals they allowed were essentially on special teams play. So, five-on-five play was mostly on the side of the Blues, at least in terms of scoring.
They have to find a way to defend better though. You cannot allow that many chances late in the game and expect to hold up to it.
A win is a win and the team got quality play from the players they need. Thomas now has over 40 assists and Kyrou is one away from 30 goals. Pavel Buchnevich continued his point streak by picking up an assist on the final goal.
It’s a quick turnaround for the Blues. Puck drop against Vegas is 24 hours after their game in Columbus started, plus a late flight home.
Hopefully, the Blues enjoy the win, rest their legs on the plane and are ready to play on Sunday.