Coming off of the Christmas Break, the Blues were presented with a solid test with the league leading Dallas Stars in town for the second time in 14 days. Not only that but we fly out tonight to face Dallas in Dallas tomorrow afternoon. Thanks schedule makers. The good thing was that neither team was allowed to practice the last three days AND Dallas had to fly in today which made the Blues the extra rested team. Jake Allen was back in net after his shutout of Boston and Antii Niemi was coming off of a shutout of Chicago, so goals were going to come at a premium.
Both teams came out very cautious to start this game, feeling out the game plan and seeing who skated the holiday hangover first. The Blues actually came out with a little more pop and had some good looks early on but as with anyone with a three day break, things just weren't crisp yet. Magnus Paajarvi and Vladimir Tarasenko would get the best looks with Tarasenko's shot ringing Niemi in the mask.
The Stars would get the first power play as Robert Bortuzzo, who was in his second straight game, would go off for roughing while sending a message to Antoine Roussel that you don't even think of breathing on our goalie. The one strength that this team has had through all of its ups and downs this season has been the penalty kill and they showed once again why they are ranked #2 in the league, allowing zero shots to a pretty darn good power play unit.
Dallas started to find their legs right after the penalty and put some good pressure on in the offensive zone but just like the Blues not much got through or connected. The best chance for either side came from Valeri Nichushkin late in the first when he picked up a loose puck and flew down the wing before firing a shot that Allen easily turned aside. The Stars held the edge in shots 7-6 but the play in the period belonged to the Blues.
The momentum would continue to roll in the Blues favor in the second, which usually doesn't happen, as the Stars would take two early penalties which would lead to some good looks. On the first power play, Paul Stastny would take a pass from Paajarvi and just miss out on a goal as Niemi was solid in net all game. On the second power play, though, the Blues would capitalize. After a face-off loss, the Blues would gain the zone and get set up, Tarasenko would slip the pick to Steen at the point, who played catch with Shattenkirk and then ripped a shot off Niemi and in.
With the assist, Tarasenko's point streak would extend to 8 games and more importantly give the Blues the lead, where they are 11-4-2 when they score first. All this has transpired with Dallas not attempting a shot on goal yet this period. But god damn just as I thought that, tic-tac-toe passing by Jamie Benn and Cody Eakin spring Colton Sceviour for a pretty nifty goal in its own right.
We all know what was coming next didn't we, another #shittysecond, no matter what we do the second period always seems to be our downfall. But before you know it, your mesmerized by the Blues passing, skating, wheeling and dealing in the offensive zone and you look at the clock and 1:16 has passed since the puck left the Dallas zone. This wasn't some stupid pass, pass, pass, pass, no chance shit either, this was legitimate zone time with chances on net and the Stars getting worn down. Now nothing came of it but it was nice to see the bounce back after what could have been a deflating goal.
Allen was staying strong despite the low shot total and he had to be when a bad bounce on a clearing attempt lead to two quick chances that he turned aside. At the other end Niemi was just as impressive, albeit he got some help when Ales Hemsky would stuff a wraparound by Robby Fabbri on a wide open net.
So even though they gave up the tying goal the Blues were going to head to the third tied at 1 with a high scoring team... wait what did you say? Seguin is coming down the wing with the puck? Like I said tie game going to the third...fuck!!! How did that go in?? Seriously?
Definitely one that Jake wants back but you also can't hold Seguin or Benn off the score sheet for multiple games. Nevertheless, the Blues were down 2-1 after two even though they outplayed and out shot the Stars and would carry a power play over into the third.
This period almost seemed like a carbon copy of the second with the Blues dominating the play and creating many good chances, but Niemi was on his game tonight. Steen would get robbed by the blocker after he waited out Niemi and got him on his belly. Tarasenko would get the puck on a 3 on 2, cut to the middle of the ice and fire a shot that the Finnish goalie didn't see much of and still got a pad on it. As the clock ticked down it didn't look good for the Blues, they went high glove, low glove, high blocker, low blocker, even to the head and nothing was getting through.
And then there came a young Canadian named Robby Fabbri who would reignite the crowd. The young forward who wasn't at the World Juniors in Finland because of the injuries to many of the Blues top forwards.
First, I love the fact that he didn't even know he had scored until Tarasenko rubbed his stinky mitt in his face and second how the hell did Bouwmeester see him? We give crap all the time about Bouwmeester having a horrible shot but damn his passes are smooth and that is what he is known for. No matter how you slice it, the Blues had tied it up and all the effort they put into this game paid off up to this point. Dallas was happily content to play for overtime and gain that charity point.
There was a lot of back and forth play in the overtime but really this is all you needed to see. Without this, the rest of the this post wouldn't have happened. The hand eye coordination with this team is uncanny.
So this is the part that most of us here hate so I won't bore you with every single goal that was scored in the shoot out. This was one of the most intense shootouts we have seen in St. Louis though so if you are a fan I implore you to watch it in its entirety. Things looked good when Steen and Tarasenko scored and Allen stopped Seguin, but Benn and Patrick Sharp would tie it up and then we had some fun.
In the 5th, Lehtera would give us the lead only to have Jason Spezza tie it. Two rounds later, Jaskin would again put us up on to have Patrick Eaves knot it back up. Finally in the 9th the Captain stepped up:
Allen was beaten multiple times glove side in the shootout and you could tell how much that pissed him off after that last save. Any way, the Blues gained a point on the Stars cutting their lead to 7 points and now head to Dallas for the second game tomorrow at 5pm CST. Let's hope they bring the same intensity and fire to this game as well. We need the points.
#3 - Vladimir Tarasenko: 1 assist, extends point streak to 8 games
#2 - Robby Fabbri: Goal, scored in three straight games
#1 - Alexander Steen: PPG and shootout goal