Tonight's matchup between the Blues and Montreal was looked as a battle between the top goalie in the game and possibly the best scorer in the league. In the first period Vladimir Tarasenko and Carey Price gave us what we wanted to see but as the game wore on it was just Price who came to play. The Blues were wrapping up a season long 6 game road trip and by the second period it started to show.
The Blues came out firing on all cylinders, peppering Price with pucks left and right but in typical Price fashion he was a stonewall. Vladi had some great looks but it was David Backes with the best chance of the period. After gathering a loose puck in the slot, Backes fired a quick shot to the glove side but Price was already in the spot waiting for it. As well as he Blues passed in the offensive zone, their play in the defensive zone was sloppier then we have seen thus far.
With the period winding down that sloppiness allowed Montreal captain Max Pacioretty to open the scoring on an odd deflection:
The Blues outshot the Canadiens 17-10 in the first and had the better opportunities but they would go into the intermission down 1-0.
The second period opened with the Blues on the power play but it was flat from the get go and it would be a harbinger of what was to come the rest of the way. Montreal was all over the rink and started to put pressure on every puck which led to missed passes and mental mistakes. Another failed attempt to clear the defensive zone led to the Canadiens second goal as Alexander Semin would net his first as a Canadien:
Steve Ott would try and get the boys going right off the face off as he dropped the gloves with Nathan Beaulieu for a fight that ended just a bit to soon as the refs stepped in with Ott pinning Beauliu to the boards. While not swinging the momentum fully to the Blues, there was a slight up step in the tempo for the next 8 minutes of play but Price was just too much as he turned shot after shot away.
A tripping penalty to Tom Gilbert might haven given the Blues a chance to get back in the game but it almost seemed like the already thought they had lost and Montreal dominated the kill, almost making you forget the Blues had an extra guy. Steen continued to try and walk the puck in only to be denied each time and by the time they started to dump the puck in it was too late in the power play. The third ended with the Blues being outshot 13-11.
With a 2-0 lead Montreal went into their shell game and it worked out amazingly. Not only was the neutral zone clogged but anytime the puck was in their zone every player on the Canadiens seemed to want the puck more then the Blues and they would fire it down the ice, icing or not. The Blues were winning the face off battle all night but when it really counted, they just could not win one. Every icing, puck out of play or offside that gave the team the advantage was wasted by a clean win by Montreal.
Torrey Mitchell would seal the game away with 8 minutes to go as a face off win off of an icing led to this:
The Blues just couldn't get anything going the rest of the game and the rest of the game dived into more physicality then actual scoring attempts. Steve Ott was his usual pest, trying to goad players into retaliation or a fight but all he succeeded in was getting a 10-minute misconduct for himself.
This definitely wasn't the game the Blues wanted to play against the now 7-0-0 Canadiens but with it being the last game of the road trip and missing three top players it wasn't as bad as it could have been. Jake Allen played a solid game although he gave up three goals, and it leaves him win-less against his hometown team. Hopefully Shattenkirk and Stastny can return by Saturday when the Blues host the New York Islanders and former teammate Jaroslav Halak.
3rd Star - Torrey Mitchell 1 Goal and always an overall Blues killer
2nd Star - Max Pacioretty GWG, best American player no one thinks of
1st Star - Carey Price 0 GA on 38 shots against