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With the Blues standing pat at the Olympic trade freeze deadline, pressure was on to get the two points needed to drag themselves back into the playoff race. The Blues did it – and they did it in style. With the Blue Jackets, Predators and Wild all losing, the Blues made up some ground in the standings.
It was never going to be easy – the Maple Leafs have been rejuvenated with the addition of Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Dion Phaneuf. An entertaining first period saw ex-Blue Lee Stempniak hit the post, Cam Janssen and Colton Orr getting into a scrap (one that was stopped rather quickly by the officials) and Andy McDonald picking up his 19th goal of the season to put the Blues 1-0 up. It was a great goal – Brewer lifted the puck out of the Blues zone for McDonald to chase. McDonald’s pass across ice was deflected and shot on goal by Erik Johnson. The rebound came out to Patrik Berglund who played a neat little pass to McDonald to slot into the net. Really excellent work by Berglund who is slowly rediscovering his form of last season.
In the second period, the Blues found themselves on the penalty kill three times and it’s worth mentioning just how good the Blues penalty killing is because, despite having three powerplays, the Maple Leafs were limited to four shots for the entire period. The penalty kill is working hard – and it’s also starting to pay dividends in the offensive zone. The Blues scored two shorthanded goals in this period. The first followed good work by David Backes who pressured Tomas Kaberle into a dangerous turnover. Backes took the puck behind the net and attempted a wraparound goal. The puck squirted out to TJ Oshie who, with Giguere sprawled on the ice, made no mistake with a practically open net for his 12th goal of the season.
The Blues second shorthanded goal was a absolute delight. A solo, unassisted goal by Alex Steen who broke out of the defensive zone and carried the puck behind the Maple Leafs goal. He battled for the puck against, at first, two Maple Leafs, and then four. Steen never gave up and, surprisingly, came away with the puck and scored a briliant wraparound goal on a very surprised Giguere.
The Maple Leafs came out for the third period 3-0 down – and they really piled the pressure onto the Blues. Chris Mason was superb – making 15 saves in the final period alone – and the Blues wrapped up the game with just over 6 minutes left. Crombeen took the puck behind the Maple Leafs goal and centered for Jay McClement. McClement dragged the puck to the right and passed across goal to Crombeen who had a simple tap in.
For the Blues, it was a job well done and it must have been very sweet for Alex Steen to score and Carlo Colaiacovo pick up an assist against their old team. Two sorely needed points now take the Blues to only four points behind the seemingly freefalling Calgary Flames who currently hold 8th place. Anyway – your game report:
- The Blues Official Site has the recap, highlights and interviews with TJ Oshie, David Backes, Chris Mason and Davis Payne.
- St Louis Game Time Game Day Thread – with a difference. It’s a combined thread with the Maple Leafs fans. So brace yourselves…
- Dan O’Neill of the Post Dispatch points out that whilst the Blues won, they have a bigger challenge tonight with comments from Chris Mason, David Backes and Capitals Coach, Bruce Boudreau.
So, in their final game before the Olympic break, the Blues face the Washington Capitals at Scottrade. Alex Ovechkin is in town – and the Blues have one hell of a game on their hands. Puck drops at 7pm – and this one is going to be a doozy.