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Blues at Sharks Preview: Schwartz’s return pays dividends

The return of the Blues’ winger helped the Blues tighten things up.

NHL: MAR 19 Blues at Sharks Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Jaden Schwartz played his first game since mid-February last night, and judging from the Blues’ improved performance, they missed him. A lot.

The Blues outshot the Sharks 34-31, and they came out of the gate shooting. Even without scoring a goal in the first period, the increased pressure on Martin Jones was evident. The focus that the team showed extended from just their focus on the net - they absolutely dominated the faceoff circle as well, 62% to 38%.

The game felt different, especially compared to Wednesday night’s apathetic loss to the Kings. A win is a win, no matter how dominant - and this wasn’t a dominant win. But it was defensively responsible, and that’s what fans have been asking for. The Blues allowed just one goal on 31 shots - this is the first time that the Blues have allowed just one goal in a game since their February 15th 1-0 loss to the Arizona Coyotes.

Unfortunately, the Blues lost Oskar Sundqvist to a lower-body injury. Sundqvist needed assistance getting off of the ice. He’s out tonight and will require a MRI.

Vladimir Tarasenko’s exclimation point of a shootout winner might give the Sharks a little motivation to win in regulation tonight, but it does much more than that for the Blues. Would you like a sign that Tarasenko is back? Here you go:

After a stellar performance last night, if Craig Berube wants to get Jordan Binnington some back-to-back experience, I don’t think anyone would complain. With a tighter defense in front of him, Binnington turned in one of his best performances this season. Time to put that starting goalie contract money where his mouth is and get another night’s work in.