Blues Gameday Preview: Florida Panthers – 2/14/23

The St. Louis Blues kicked off the post-Vladimir Tarasenko era with a high-scoring and entertaining 6-5 overtime win over the Jakob Chychrun-less Arizona Coyotes. The Blues trailed 2-0 after the first but tied it up in the second period with goals by Brandon Saad (15) and newcomer/old friend Sammy Blais (one), his first NHL goal since he was traded to the New York Rangers prior to the 2021-22 season. The Blues scored three unanswered goals to kick off the third, one by Robert Thomas (13) and two by Calle Rosen (6, 7) before the Coyotes answered with three of their own to send the game into OT knotted at 5-5.

St. Louis Blues' Gameday Robert Thomas, Jordan Kyrou, Justin Faulk and Jordan Binnington

Just over one minute into the extra period, Ryan O’Reilly tucked the puck just beyond the fully extended right leg of goalie Karel Vejmelka for the game-winner (11). This was O’Reilly’s first game back since breaking his foot on Dec. 31 and he reported no ill effects or discomfort after the game. Also returning to the lineup after missing time were Robert Thomas (lower body) and Pavel Buchnevich (lower body), with the former recording one point (goal) and the latter registering three assists.

Related: St. Louis Blues Midseason Top 10 Prospects for 2022-23

Latest News & Highlights

Next up for the Blues (24-25-3) will be a matchup on home ice against the Florida Panthers (27-23-6). This will be the second game of a back-to-back for Florida after they beat the Minnesota Wild last night (Feb. 13) 2-1 in a shootout. They’re 6-3-1 in their last 10 games and 11-5-2 since the calendar turned to 2023. These two teams faced off on Nov. 26, a game in which the Blues rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the third to win 5-4 in OT.

Blues Projected Lineup


Brandon Saad – Ryan O’Reilly – Pavel Buchnevich

Brayden Schenn – Robert Thomas – Jordan Kyrou

Ivan Barbashev – Noel Acciari – Sammy Blais

Alexey Toropchenko – Nathan Walker – Tyler Pitlick

Ryan O'Reilly St. Louis Blues
Ryan O’Reilly, St. Louis Blues (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)


Nick Leddy – Colton Parayko

Torey Krug – Justin Faulk

Tyler Tucker – Calle Rosen


Jordan Binnington

Blais Scores in First Game Back

In his first game back with the Blues after being dealt to the Rangers in 2021, Blais made an immediate impact in their win over the Coyotes. After taking a minor penalty more than halfway through the second period with the Blues down 2-1, Nick Leddy made a terrific seeing-eye pass to the O-zone blue line as Blais left the box. All alone, he made a few dekes before hoisting a backhanded shot over the goalie’s left side to tie the game at 2-2.

Blais had this to say after the game:

“My first goal of the season, coming back to St. Louis and scoring in my first game, I couldn’t have asked for anything better than that,” Blais said. “When I scored, when I was on my way to the bench to celebrate, I got some chills.”

From ‘Blues’ Sammy Blais returns to St. Louis as if he never left: ‘Got some chills,’ Jeremy Rutherford, The Athletic, 02/12/2023

His time in New York was tumultuous thanks to an ACL tear in Nov. 2022. He failed to score a goal and registered just nine assists in only 54 total games as a Ranger. His goal on Feb. 11 was his first since May 2021.

Perunovich Assigned to AHL for Conditioning

Oft-injured Scott Perunovich may be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as he has been assigned to the Springfield Thunderbirds of the American Hockey League (AHL) for conditioning – which is generally regarded as the final step to get players who are returning from long-term injury game-ready. He’s been out of the lineup since he suffered a fractured left shoulder during the preseason. It’s not clear how much time he’ll require in Springfield to reacclimate himself to game speed, but his return to St. Louis will come with much anticipation.

Panthers Projected Lineup*

*No morning skate. Lineups based on Feb. 13 game.


Anton Lundell – Aleksander Barkov – Sam Reinhart

Carter Verhaeghe – Sam Bennett – Matthew Tkachuk

Ryan Lomberg – Eetu Luoustarinen – Nick Cousins

Grigori Denisenko – Eric Staal – Givani Smith

Matthew Tkachuk, Florida Panthers
Matthew Tkachuk, Florida Panthers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)


Gustav Forsling – Aaron Ekblad

Marc Staal – Brandon Montour

Josh Mahura – Radko Gudas


Spencer Knight

Who to Watch

St. Louis Blues: Ryan O’Reilly

As he works his way back from his foot injury, eyes from all around the NHL will be on captain O’Reilly. He scored the game-winner against Arizona on Feb. 11 and also won 69% of his faceoffs in that game. He’ll look to build on that performance against Florida, boosting his price tag for the Blues in either the form of a trade return or a possible extension.

Florida Panthers: Matthew Tkachuk

Anytime a Tkachuk brother is on the ice in St. Louis, he is always going to be the player to watch. In this case, it’ll be Matthew Tkachuk. The St. Louis native continues to shine in South Beach, as he’s scored nine points (two goals, seven assists) in his last five games and leads his club in both assists (46) and points (73). In 15 career games versus his hometown team, he’s recorded four goals and 14 assists.

How to Watch

Florida Panthers @ St. Louis Blues – 7:00 PM CST

The Blues and Panthers will square off at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis, MO tonight (Feb. 14) at 7:00 PM. Fans can watch the game on ESPN+ and Hulu or listen to the broadcast on 101 ESPN or the Blues App.

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