3 Takeaways from the Blues’ 5-3 Victory over Sharks
The St. Louis Blues returned home to the Enterprise Center with a franchise-record eight-game losing streak hanging over their heads. The players and fans alike had grown frustrated but determined to change course. After the team’s loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly stated: “There’s no question that guys are working – it’s not always good enough. I know for myself, it’s not good enough… It’s frustrating.”
The Blues battled throughout the game and overcame adversity as one-goal leads were repeatedly taken away. However, the hometown team came out on the other side victorious and ended their losing streak before embarking on another road trip.
Blues Roster Moves Pay Dividends
Ahead of the game, Blues general manager Doug Armstrong made a series of roster moves and inserted into the lineup defenseman Calle Rosén and forwards Nikita Alexandrov and Josh Leivo. On the flip side, forward prospect Jake Neighbours was assigned to Springfield, and defenseman Robert Bortuzzo was placed on injured reserve.
Related: Blues Shake Up Roster Hoping for a Spark
Latest News & Highlights
In hopes of sparking his team’s performance, Alexandrov was inserted into the lineup, making his NHL debut. Ahead of the game, head coach Craig Berube said: “I think he came into camp and showed us a lot. I think he’s got real good details. He can play center or wing. He’s a competitive guy too. He plays a pretty heavy game to be honest with you. He’s physical and gets involved and has pretty good puck skills, but the thing for me is he’s a smart player more than anything.”
Alexandrov played the game on the fourth line with Noel Acciari and Tyler Pitlick, two veteran forwards that have combined for over 600 career games and were ready to help him throughout his first NHL game. Alexandrov finished the game with 9:31 of time on ice, two shots on goal, two hits, and one blocked shot.
While the fans and media alike were wrapped up in the losing streak and the debut of Alexandrov, Rosén took matters into his own hands providing a booming shot from the point to reclaim his team’s lead. Not known for his offensive abilities, he scored his first goal of the season and fourth of his NHL career. Last season, the 28-year-old scored two goals and seven points in 18 games for the Blues. With the injury to Bortuzzo, Rosén will need to battle fellow defenseman Tyler Tucker for his spot. However, his performance last night should give the coaching staff confidence in him, giving him the inside track as a regular addition to the lineup moving forward.
Blues’ Second-Period Success
A successful second period has been hard to come by this season as the Blues have failed to outscore their opposition since their Oct. 26 game against the Edmonton Oilers. Ahead of their game against the San Jose Sharks, they have seen a substantial amount of goals given up in the second and third periods. Through only 11 games, they have been outscored 37-14, a minus-23 differential. Determined to change course and break the habit, the Blues were finally able to close out the middle frame on a positive note with a 3-2 lead heading into the third period.
On their second power play opportunity of the game, forward Jordan Kyrou scored off of a cross-ice pass from teammate Pavel Buchnevich to take a 2-1 lead seven minutes into the second period. However, a breakdown in defensive coverage resulted in a Sharks goal to tie the game. The Blues continued to play a loose style in their own zone and allowed too many chances, relying on their goaltender to make game-changing saves. The goal by Tomas Hertl is one that Jordan Binnington will likely want back but ultimately did not define his team as they continued to push to reclaim the lead.
With less than two minutes to play in the period, Brandon Saad scored his first goal of the season after a pass from behind the net by Leivo. The Blues have been in a hurry throughout the season to make passes and plays, oftentimes leading to the play being broken up or a shot going wide. However, Leivo played with a calming presence, slowing down the play, and providing the golden opportunity for the Blues to take the lead.
Blues Battle to Earn Victory
The victory did not come easy for the Blues giving up three one-goal leads throughout the game. Rather than playing for the win and adding to their lead, they looked scared at times to let up another goal. The Sharks pushed heavily in the opening minutes to the third period, preventing the Blues from crossing center ice, let alone recording a shot on goal. Brayden Schenn broke that trend as he notched the team’s first shot on goal 6:30 into the period.
“It was obviously a good feeling for sure. You lose as much as we have lately and it’s really not a good feeling, but we got a win,” Berube said. “It was a battle, but we got a win and I thought we did a lot of good things tonight.”
The group came together seeing a complete effort from every player, including a strong performance from the fourth line. “I thought that Acciari’s line was excellent tonight. Provided a ton of energy for us and real good hockey, and I thought they lifted our bench up a bunch tonight with their play.”
The Blues take to the road once again with a three-game road trip. The team will travel to Nevada and take on the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday at 9 PM CST.
Mike is a writer for The Hockey Writers and covers the St. Louis Blues since November of 2021. He has a keen love for statistical analysis, prospects, signings, and trades. Follow Mike on Twitter for further Blues or Central division hockey discussions, interview requests, or to provide content info.