Sunday, March 11, 2018

Blues Score 7! Beat LA 7-2

St. Louis Blues vs Los Angeles Kings - Game 68 Recap
Goals: Bortuzzo (2), Parayko (6), Pietrangelo (12), Barbarshev (5), Tarasenko (27), Brodziak (10), Schwartz (20)
Record 36-27-5
My thoughts on the game
  • In the pre-game show, Darren Pang said, "The Blues are going to need an Academy Award performance today here in LA." Coming off a stretch where the St. Louis hockey club was just 1-7-2 in the last 10 games, they desperately needed to find their game in order to keep a 7th straight playoff appearance a possibility. 
  • Coach Mike Yeo, who's been fiddling with his line combinations all season long, decided to go back to the line that once upon a time, early in the season was ranked as one of the top 2 or 3 lines in all of NHL land. I was happy to see Schenn, Schwartz, and Tarasenko back together.
  • The LA Kings have been playing some good hockey and are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games, and just 4 points in front of the Blues in the race for a wild-card playoff spot. Their goalie, Jonathan Quick, although considered one of the league's best goaltenders, is just 8-11-3 versus the Blues and would not improve upon that record in this one.
  • The first period opened quickly with offensive rushes and scoring chances from both teams in the first minute of play but both goalies made stops to get things started.
  • Early penalties led to a short LA power play, then 4 on 4, and then a short St. Louis power play with neither team scoring. 
  • That all changed at the 3:03 mark when Ivan Barbashev made a nice move along the right side half boards, spun around with the puck and found Robert Bortuzzo entering the zone near the top of the right circle. Barbie's pass was perfect and Bortuzzo's wrist shot beat Quick for an early 1-0 Blues lead.
  • LA got another power play chance a couple of minutes later and Jake Allen made 2 huge saves to keep the Kings off the board. 
  • The Blues earned another power play when LA was whistled for touching the puck with their hand in the faceoff circle at the 6:51 mark.
  • The Kings are 2nd in the NHL on the penalty kill and kept up that pace by holding the Blues to no power play goals in 3 chances in this game. 
  • However, just 2 seconds after LA was back at full strength Patrik Berglund got the puck down low near the Kings' net, skated across the crease and found Colton Parayko at the top of the right circle. Parayko buried the puck in the back of the net to give the Blues a 2-0 lead.
  • The 2nd period included some saves by Jake Allen who, having played a great game 2 nights earlier in San Jose, looked strong again in net today. He commented that he has been working at staying deeper in the net which seems to be working for him. In fact, he was so deep in the San Jose game that he got his skate caught in the netting and couldn't free himself.
  • LA got their first goal at the 13:13 mark when some traffic in front created a bit of confusion and a 2nd player in front, Drew Doughty redirected a pass that found its way into the net. 
  • Just when it seemed that LA might have the momentum after the goal, they came on the offensive rush. With lots of bodies in front of the net and a loose puck, Schwartz managed to finally get it cleared. The Blues skated North and Alex Pietrangelo worked it in toward the net. He passed to Brodziak down on the goal line to the right of the net. Brodziak skated in front and put a backhand shot on Quick, who couldn't contain the rebound and the charging Pietrangelo poked it home stretching the lead back to a 2 goal lead at 3-1.
  • LA looked like they might just be trying to get to the locker room for the 2nd intermission, but St. Louis was tasting blood and was hungry for more. Ivan Barbashev skated hard at the net, past two defenders and somehow got a shot through the legs of Quick to take a 4-1 lead.
  • That goal chased the LA goalie and they turned to backup, Jack Campbell who has only played in 4 NHL games in his career, and this one was only his 2nd appearance this season.
  • 26 seconds into the third, facing his first shot on goal from one of the people you wouldn't pick to face your first shot from, Vladimir Tarasenko scored on an assist from linemate Jaden Schwartz. Although he didn't get an assist, the goal was created by the forechecking of Brayden Schenn. 
  • Just 32 seconds later St. Louis went up 6-1when Kyle Brodziak scored his 10th goal of the season on a nice backhander, assisted by Alexander Steen.
  • Schwartz finished off St Louis' scoring on his 20th goal of the year with a little over 8 minutes remaining. He was set up by a nice little drop pass from Tarasenko as the #1 line for the Blues was clicking on all cylinders.
  • LA added a power-play goal with 15 seconds left for the final score of 7-2. 
  • It's only been 2 games, but if those two games are any indication, Jake Allen has found something that's been missing. When the Blues needed him most, he's stopped 72 of 75 shots faced. Only 1 of the 3 goals he allowed was at even-strength and was definitely not a soft goal. If he can keep playing like this and the Blues can find a way to score for him, a playoff appearance is definitely still in the picture.
  • Referencing Panger's pre-game comments, the Blues got the Oscar Winning performance they were looking for. It was a great day to be a Blues fan! Now, let's finish off this trip with another win in Anaheim Monday night.
#AllTogetherNowStL #LGB


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