The St. Louis Blues and their fans are likely feeling a sense of relief and frustration heading home after a 1-2-1 road trip. With little to write home about, there are plenty of things for the team to work on and correct as the push for the playoffs rages on.
Right now, the Blues are second in the Central Division with 71 points and a 106-point projection. While the Colorado Avalanche are in a league all to themselves this season, the Minnesota Wild have (thankfully) experienced a bit of trouble with a 2-8-0 record over their last 10 games.
Blues Shutout the Blackhawks
Goaltender Jordan Binnington helped keep the team’s winning streak rolling when they visited the Chicago Blackhawks on Feb. 27 and left in a decisive 4-0 victory. A two-goal effort from David Perron and a 30-save performance by Binnington propelled them past their division rival. However, the first period did not go well as forward Jordan Kyrou had two quality high-danger scoring chances with no shots on net to show for it.
The two teams ended the first period deadlocked in a scoreless match before Kyrou found his groove and scored the first goal of the game just 2:26 into the second period, his 21st of the season. The scoring parade did not stop as Pavel Buchnevich and Perron extended their lead to three, heading into the final frame. Perron scored his second of the game against his former Vegas Golden Knights teammate Marc-Andre Fleury to extend the lead to 4-0.
“Today, I think our team played really strongly in the last two periods,” Binnington said. “It feels good to get a shutout and a win. We were really solid. The team did a good job making my job easy tonight.”
Winning Streak Snapped Against the Rangers
The Blues headed to New York on a four-game winning streak for a heavyweight matchup against the Rangers. After trailing 2-0 early in the second period, the Blues responded with three quick goals from Ryan O’Reilly, Ivan Barbashev, and Perron to close out the second period with a 3-2 lead. Unfortunately, the team could not weather the Rangers’ third-period three-goal storm that propelled them to a 5-3 victory.
“The way the momentum shifts, it’s gonna come back to bite you,” O’Reilly said. “It’s a lesson for us. I think we’re a better team than them. I think we can beat them, and we just didn’t have the full 60 that we needed to tonight” (from ‘Rangers snap Blues’ point streak with third-period outburst, 5-3’, The Post Dispatch, 3/2/22)
Related: Blues Need Binnington, Husso & Tarasenko for Stanley Cup Run
One thing the box score didn’t show was after the Blues registered three shots in the opening five minutes, they failed to record another shot for nearly 10 minutes until Colton Parayko landed a slapshot on net with 4:41 left. While the team managed 32 shots on goal during the game, the Rangers blocked 23 additional shots that ultimately held off the Blues’ offensive push.
Block Party Continues Against the Islanders
With an early start, the Blues were looking for a bounce-back effort against the New York Islanders who had a 1-3-1 record in their previous five games. The first-period goal by Islanders forward Oliver Wahlstrom made it 1-0 at the 6:36 minute mark when he buried his 11th of the season. The Blues went into the locker room down only 1-0 after a disallowed goal by Kyle Palmeri kept the team within striking distance with 40 minutes to go. However, an early power-play goal by Brock Nelson changed all of that just 1:04 into the second period. Down 2-0 and outshot 13-12, the Blues appeared groggy and unmotivated.
A late effort by the team brought the Blues back within one but it was too little, too late as they lost 2-1, their second defeat in a row. Led by Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock’s four blocked shots, the team took a page from their New York counterparts and blocked 24 of the Blues’ shot attempts that afternoon.
“Tough start to the game for us, and we finally got going in the third and really brought it to them,” Blues forward Robert Thomas said. “We just needed to do that for the first and second period.”
Blues Secure One Point Against the New Jersey Devils
With one final game before heading home, the Blues squared off against the New Jersey Devils in a Sunday matinee. However, after another lackluster start to the first period, the club faced a 1-0 deficit for the third game in a row when Devils defenseman Ty Smith scored on Ville Husso 9:47 into the game. Things did not get much better in the second as the Blues continued to sleepwalk their way through the game when Dawson Mercer made it 2-0 for the Devils. The Blues only had one shot on goal during the second period, which came with 1:53 left.
Finally, a third-period surge brought life back to the Blues, and they tied the game after early goals from Torey Krug and Kyrou with just over 14 minutes left. The Devils had plans of their own and took home the victory after a game-winning goal by Dougie Hamilton 1:12 into overtime.
“We have to get it sorted out,” O’Reilly said. “We just aren’t doing it the right way right now, and we have to get back to where we need to be. They dominated us in the first two periods.”
This road trip is one the Blues will want to put behind them. With 27 games left in the regular season, they have little to no time to get matters sorted before the playoffs. They will need scoring and defensive efforts from every player and cannot afford to carry a roster of passengers the rest of the way.