St. Louis 5, Carolina 2
Next up: Phoenix
Depleted with injuries, the Blues took to the road with their latest callup from Peoria, Yan Stastny. Stastny, who has been an offensive powerhouse in the early going in Peoria, joined the team to add depth to a banged up roster. The Blues came out firing and controlled the game early giving them an early lead. They survived a wave of Carolina attacks, and escaped with two points.
As you might recall, one of the biggest issues aside from injuries troubling the Blues this year has been slow starts in the first period. Hopefully the play we saw last night is an indication the team has indeed gotten the memo, and has addresses said problems, as the Note jumped out with a goal seven minutes into the game. They went on to score three first period goals, before Carolina got one back in the final minute of the first.
David Perron played an excellent game, notching the first goal of the game that really set the tempo. It didn’t take long for Stastny to get his first goal of the season at the NHL level, burying the puck behind Cam Ward following a giveaway caused by a crushing Cam Janssen hit. Jay McClement tallied his third on the year just 16 seconds after Stastny, giving the Blues a commanding 3-0 lead. However, one negative on the night was the Blues play while killing off penalties, and the Hurricanes got one back with the man advantage just before the period ended.
The rest of the scoring went as follows.
The only goal scored in the second was from Andy McDonald following a brilliant pass by Keith Tkachuk on a 2-on-1 break, giving the Blues a three goal lead once more.
The third period saw Carolina try to crawl back into the game, with a flurry of chances and shots. Scott Walker scored the ‘Canes second power-play goal of the night to close the gap, but that was all she wrote as David Perron closed the night with an empty netter. Final score: Blues 5 – Canes 2.
While the Blues offense generated four goals (five counting the empty netter), three of which came in the first period, they fell dormant later in the game. Check out the shot totals: 11 in the first, 3 in the second and 3 in the third for just 17 total. 17 total shots won’t win you many games, but thankfully five of these found the net. On the other side, Carolina threw 36 shots on net, including 17 in the final period of play. Chris Mason stopped chance after chance, even when the Blues defense was either caught standing or caught rushing around the ice in an unorganized panic.
It is extremely encouraging to see the Blues strong first period play, but it is clear the offense still has a few points to correct and they still need to generate more shooting opportunities.
Overall, it was a solid win with some huge performances by David Perron, Andy McDonald, Keith Tkachuk, Yan Stastny, Chris Mason and Cam Janssen. Janssen deserves mention as his hit led to the Stastny goal, and he fought well in a scrap in the first period.
With the good comes some bad. Where are you Brad Boyes? 16 of the Blues players finished with a plus rating, from +1 up to +3, but only Brad Boyes and Paul Kariya finished at an even 0. Boyes was credited with two shots, but he had a couple chances where he had room but still fired high and wide, usually to the right.
One has to wonder if and when Boyes will bust out of this funk, but until then hopefully the Blues will get contributions from other spots on the ice.
The Blues need to cut down on the shots they allow while at the same time generate more themselves. Chris Mason was spectacular in net, but letting him see that many shots while firing just 17 of your own is a dangerous way to play.
Next up for the Note: Tonight vs. Phoenix. The Blues come back home to take on a surprising Phoenix team that has started the year 7-4-0, mostly in part to the tremendous goaltending by Ilya Brygalov.