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Blues Hold On Against Rangers

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NHL: St. Louis Blues at Chicago Blackhawks Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

For just the 4th time in team history the Blues start a season 3-0 but it wasn’t easy or pretty. Well, Tarasenko’s goal was pretty damn good looking. The story, though, is all Carter Hutton and the way he rebounded after a weak goal moments after the Blues had taken a 3-1 lead. Add to that the loss of three players throughout the game and the 3-2 victory is even more improbable.

This matchup was billed as Vladi vs King Henrik and in the first period it did not disappoint. After a blocked shot by Colton Parayko, the puck eluded a Rangers defender at center ice allowing Parayko to spring Tarasenko for a breakaway on Lundqvist. Vlad didn’t hesitate and fired the puck low blocker side for a 1-0 Blues lead just 1:13 in.

As exciting as that goal was, the Rangers controlled play early on in the first and the pressure they applied led to the game tying goal just over 4 minutes later. A failed outlet pass by Robby Fabbri allowed the Rangers to retake the zone and a ping ponging puck landed on Chris Kreider’s stick in front of the net. Kreider ripped a shot to Hutton’s blocker side and the Blues net-minder had no chance.

The tide of the period shifted after the two teams traded power plays with the Blues adjusting to the Rangers speed and countering. Tarasenko had another open look on Lundqvist but his glove side shot was snared with ease by the Swede.

The Blues would regain the lead thanks to the sacrifice and hard work of Paul Stastny, who early on has been what the Blues thought they were getting last year. Stastny would take a hard hit dumping the puck into the New York zone and would find his way to the front of the net as Alex Pietrangelo moved the puck to Alexander Steen who found Fabbri for a quick shot on Lundqvist. The high shot couldn’t be contained and the puck fell to a pouncing Statsny who poked the puck in.

The goal was Stastny’s 100th point as a Blue and it capped the turnaround of the period. At one point the Blues were being out shot 7-3 and looked a step behind but after making some adjustments the Blues allowed only 1 shot over the final 11:41 of the period and took a 2-1 lead and an 11-8 shot differential into the intermission.

The battle between Tarasenko and Lundqvist was back again at the start of the second when Tarasenko was denied point blank after a perfect pass by David Perron in the slot.

The action continued early on in the second when the Blues went on the power play after Carl Gunnarsson took a high stick to the chops. A face-off win and a one timed pass from Stastny to Pietrangelo was all it took to increase the lead. The power play lasted all of 6 seconds and it just shows how quickly this team can strike.

But as the fans were cheering the new Captain’s first goal of the year, Mika Zibanejad quieted them just as quickly when he backhanded a sharp angled shot past Hutton to bring the game back to a one goal affair.

This was a goal Hutton should have had and to his credit, at the next TV timeout, skated to the bench and told the guys the goal was his fault and he would get it back. And boy would he get it back.

The third period was all Rangers but Hutton was like an immovable object. The newest Blues goalie robbed Ranger after Ranger and even got help from the iron on a few occasions. Hutton was determined to not allow another goal and he succeeded. It wasn’t easy, though, as the Blues were down Gunnarsson, Jori Lehtera and Kyle Brodziak and were on their third game in 5 days. New York threw wave after wave at the Blues with no success.

The end of the game was pure survival as the Blues didn’t record a shot on net in the period. It’s early in the season but this could be one of the games a team looks back on as a turning point. No matter what anyone thinks the Blues are 3-0 and are embarking on a three game Western Canada swing that will really show what this team is made of.

Three Stars

#3 - Vladimir Tarasenko: 1 goal and 1 assist, he is the Energizer Bunny for this team, he just keeps going and going and going.

#2 - Paul Stastny: 1 goal and 1 assist, 6 points through 3 games to lead the Blues.

#1 - Carter Hutton: 33 saves for his first win as a Blue. Took the game over after the weak goal to Zibanejad.