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Chucky and the Spetsnaz line defeat Stars

The Blues faced division rival the Dallas Stars in the second half of their third home and home series in the last ten games. Just three days ago the Blues scored three goals in the third period in Dallas to win 4-1. The Russian special forces “Spetsnaz” line of Vladimir Tarasenko, Ivan Barbashev, and newcomer Pavel Buchnevich combined for two goals and seven points.

On Friday night in St. Louis, the same line combined for three goals and two assists in a dominant 4-1 victory. Tarasenko led the Blues with 2 goals. He was credited with the game-winning goal late in the second period. Barbashev and Buchnevich assisted on his first goal of the night.

When asked about the team having more structure, Tarasenko stated, “I think sometimes it’s not fun part of the game, but you have to do this to win the games. We learn it in ’19. Sometimes it’s time to work and play a little bit more simple.” He continued, “As a team, we can buy into it more doing this. When it’s time to create, you can create, but if we eliminate turnovers and just work, it gives us a lot of success as a team.”

That structure was evident after the first period. The Central Division rivals spent most of the first 20 minutes feeling each other out. While neither team scored, both teams were able to get the puck in deep and create cycles that allowed for some prime scoring chances.

Dallas’ bet chance came with 1:37 left in the first. After an icing by the Blues, St. Louis won the faceoff but could not clear the puck up the near boards. John Klingberg took the puck from along the board and going to his left had a clear lane. Blues Goalie Charlie Lindgren came out of the net to the left and prevented Klingberg from getting the shot off.

St. Louis Blues goaltender Charlie Lindgren defends during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Dallas Stars, Friday, Dec. 17, 2021, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Arnold J. Ward)

Blues’ head coach Craig Berube on what more can he say about Lindgren: “Not much. He’s answered the bell, that’s for sure. He’s coming in there and he’s doing a great job for us, making saves he’s supposed to make. You know, I can’t really say much more than that.”

Points vs Points Percentage, 31st in Points

St. Louis fired nine shots in the first, while Dallas mustered only six. After Tuesday’s game in Dallas, Stars’ head coach Rick Bowness commented on his team’s play. “We had some guys that I’ll have to check the video tomorrow to see if they even played.” he sighed. “I couldn’t find them on the ice so unless you’re going to want to show up and get your nose dirty and get involved in a game like that, then you’re a complete non-factor.”

His comments may have fallen on deaf ears. The Blues came out on a mission in the second. Coming into today’s matchup, the Blues were a plus +13 in the second period and Dallas sat at a minus -10. The Blues started the period attacking the Dallas net. Dallas was able to create a few scoring chances, but the Blues defense was collapsing and they blocked 20 shots led by defenseman Niko Mikkola with six.

St Louis was able to break through at the three-minute and 35-second mark. Brandon Saad had the puck deep along the boards, fighting with two Stars. He forced the puck out to Ryan O’Reilly at the left point. He quickly moved the puck to Colton Parayko on the right side. Parayko let loose a one-timer that just missed the net. St Louis native Logan Brown retrieved the puck from behind the net and forced the puck past Stanley Cup Champion Braden Holtby to open the scoring with Brown’s third goal since his call-up.

St Louis’ special teams have been spectacular the last 7 games. They have not allowed a power-play goal since December second, in the third period against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Sixteen straight attempts were foiled, including three tonight. Their 3rd ranked power play was one for two after Tarasenko netted his second goal of the night.

History made

The snipe from Tarasenko came after the Stars had cut the lead in half off of a face-off win by Dallas. Rookie Jason Robertson netted his ninth of the year off a rebound in front of Lindgren’s net. Lindgren stopped 26 of 27 shots, becoming the first Blues goalie to win his first five games in a season. He had been tied at 4 with the forgettable Ryan Miller.

“It’s been quite the ride so far. I’m very thankful about the win tonight, another excellent game by the guys.” Lingren said. “You wake up tomorrow morning wanting more.”

“I heard that (stat) after the game,” He said. “Pretty cool thing. It’s an individual award but again, it’s clichè, but it’s a team award as well. The guys are battling hard for me and it isn’t just about me, it’s about the team. I’m very excited about it but let’s keep it going.”

Lindgren has posted a 1.22 goals-against average and a .958 save percentage in those five games. His backup tonight was Jordan Binnington. Binnington was released from COVID protocol on Wednesday and skated with the team on Thursday. He said he only had minor symptoms similar to a head cold, and he had to wait out the ten days.

During the second of three power plays for Dallas, Buchnevich was awarded a penalty shot when he was hooked from behind by Alexander Radulov. Holtby who stopped 30 of 33 shots, was able to force Buchnevich to just miss on the right-hand side hitting the post. Barbashev capped of the scoring with an empty-net goal after forcing a turnover by Jamie Benn late in the third.

Up next for St. Louis, is a late matinee against the reeling Winnipeg Jets in Winnipeg. Jets coach Paul Maurice resigned as coach of the Jets on Friday. the Jets lost to the Washing Capitals 5-2 afterward.

Till Next time Hockey fans,

NHL making mental health number 1 priority

Guy “Hawaii Hockey Fan” Bensing

Guy@stlfanreport.com

@hawaiibluesfan @Bluenotereport

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