When asked about his new line, Vladimir Tarasenko was quick to point out that “new” wasn’t entirely accurate.
“It’s like old new line,” he said. “It takes a couple of days to find out and remember this connection.”
And yet the Blues’ old new top line of Tarasenko, Paul Stastny, and Alexander Steen remembered that connection in a hurry. In their second game since being reassembled, the trio combined for three goals and six points in a 6-0 victory over Ottawa on Tuesday night.
In a game that was most notable for dominating offensive play, Jake Allen made 30 saves to record his second shutout of the season, allowing his save percentage to creep back into the .900s.
“Given the way Jake has played lately, we had confidence in him coming into this game tonight,” said Blues Head Coach Mike Yeo. “We knew it would be a good test and...he was outstanding.”
Blues center Ivan Barbashev scored his first NHL goal in the game after putting up 29 over the last two seasons for the AHL Chicago Wolves. “I didn’t realize what happened at first,” he said. “I’m pretty sure it was just a good forecheck by Jori (Lehtera) and Perry (David Perron)...I just probably got lucky there.”
Barbashev’s goal was the third in the last two games scored by a player who was not on the team’s roster before January 26th. Kenny Agostino, who scored the previous night in Philadelphia, added an assist in this game, and Magnus Paajarvi chipped in with a power move to the net for his second goal and second game winning goal of the season.
“I loved the way that [Paajarvi] scored the goal,” Yeo said, “but there’s a lot of little things in his game that I really liked too. I thought he had a really good stick. I thought his speed was a factor to allow us to create turnovers to get to the offensive zone.”
While the Blues currently sit in the first Wild Card spot in the Western Conference, they’re tied with the Calgary Flames and only one point ahead of the Los Angeles Kings. The Blues haven’t had to struggle for a playoff spot since Ken Hitchcock was hired in 2011, so for some players, that old challenge is a new hurdle to clear.
“Since I come here to St. Louis, we’ve never been in the spot where we’re fighting for playoffs,” Tarasenko said. “Now every game we try to stick together whatever happened and just win every game one at a time.”
It’s hard to get more old school than that.