Hoping to erase the memories of their last pathetic home game and trying to build on the decent game they played last night on Long Island, the Blues hosted a Toronto team minus their best player in James Reimer. While this game looked like it had all the makings of a Blues victory, you can never count out a Mike Babcock coached team. 22 year old Garret Sparks was getting just his third NHL start and Jake Allen was back in goal for the Blues after Brian Elliott's solid start the previous night. Oh and the game was a Hockey Night in Canada game so no pressure for any of the Canadian players on the Blues at all.
The Blues came out firing on all cylinders and, less than two minutes in, they had a lead on a quick developing 2 on 1 with Paul Stastny and Vladimir Tarasenko.
Even when he whiffs on a shot Vladi still makes his goals look good. Stastny would get the next great look of the game a short time later but Sparks had an answer as he snared the puck with his glove shutting down the Blues for the first of many times in the game. The Blues would keep up the pressure and record the first six shots of the game as the Leafs looked like they were just trying to weather the storm of a team who had played the night before.
Allen had to be sharp when Peter Holland flew in on the wing and got a snap shot off before the defense reached him and, as the rebound was sliding toward PA Parenteau, Allen would dive out to sweep it to the corner. After Steve Ott went off for interference and Tyler Bozak following a short time later the Blues would get essentially their last good look on goal when David Backes would get a partial break on Sparks who stood firm and turned the shot away.
As the period drew to a close you could start to see the legs and the vigor leaving the team and no so more evident on the tying goal by Nazim Kadri. Tarasenko would lose the puck and what seemed like a harmless shot on goal would elude Allen and bounce in front of the net, where Jay Bouwmeester would attempt to swat it to the corner. But a heads up play by Leo Komarov pushed the puck just enough off of the stick of Bouwmeester to allow Kadri to take the flubbed clear and deposit it into the back of the net.
In a period that the Blues dominated the first 15-17 minutes to be tied after one was not a good feeling to have. All in all of the games I have been able to watch lately it was one of the best opening periods I have seen in awhile, which may not be saying much.
Not sure who said what about whose momma did what to whom, but David Backes and Kadri went nuclear 20 seconds into the second, dropping the mitts but not really landing many punches. The fight put some gusto back into the Blues and they started to carry the play early on. The next few minutes saw the Blues sustain pressure in the Leafs zone but no shots would get on net. You could see the Blues were just getting ready to blow up for like a four goal second period. And wouldn't you know, Brad Boyes and Roman Polak would be the ones to get the scoring going for the Blues........oh wait this isn't 2008?
Things wouldn't get much better as the Leafs continued to harass the Blues defense and about three minutes later Toronto would find the back of the net again. More sloppy play by the whole unit would result in a delayed penalty and as the puck pinballed around and no Blue touching it, it would wind up on the stick of Parenteau who backhanded it between Allen's legs.
For the second time this year Ken Hitchcock would pull his starter for a brief time to clear his head and shake up his team before reinserting him back in. It didn't do a damn thing for the guys in front of Allen as they continued to play like crap, amassing a whopping 2 shots, TWO SHOTS, in the whole second period including one shot on a power play?!?!?! Well you know some shit was going to get thrown in the locker room and the Blues would come out fierce in the third.
It must have been passive aggressive night at the rink tonight because the third period was only slightly less atrocious as the second one was. Alex Pietrangelo did get a good look early in the third as he was able to slide in from the point, cross to the front of the goal and put a back hand shot on net but Sparks or Stasnty prevented the puck from going in.
Dion Phanuef and Alex Steen would get a little testy in the Leafs zone and would each go off for roughing, opening up the ice with a little 4 on 4 which would seem to benefit the Blues. But people tend to forget that Toronto has some pretty speedy and skillful guys on their team too and it was one of their heralded rising stars that finished this game off.
Any fight the Blues may have had left completely vanished after the second Kadri goal and two stupid penalties only made it that much harder to even get back to reasonable. After putting 15 shots on goal in the first period, the Blues would not equal that with the second and third combined as Toronto's system really shut down any attempt at flow for the Blues.
With not having watched the Florida game, I don't know how it compares to this one but I almost just posted the link to Tarasenko's goal and then a poop emoticon as the recap as this was a really shitty game and no recap would ever portray the lack of interest the Blues showed. Here's hoping we pull our heads out of our butts by Tuesday when we face Arizona.
#3 - Roman Polak: 2 Assists against former team, almost had his first goal of the season
#2 - Garret Sparks: Improves to 2-1-0 in Reimer's absence
#1 - Nazim Kadri: 2 Goals, second was smooth as butter on toast