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Blues Cage the Kraken

The St. Louis Blues came into Thursday night’s game on a 12 game home points streak. The Seattle Kraken had lost seven in a row. Pavel Buchnevich made sure both streaks stayed alive. The Blues also came from behind for a league-leading 13th time, breaking a tie with both the Colorado Avalanche and the Florida Panthers.

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Since 1998, the Blues have faced five expansion teams at home for the first time and won them all, with the last being against the Las Vegas Golden Knights, in 2018. Defeating the Kracken made it six.

The blues waited till the third period to find the back of the net for a second game. Scoring twice in the last minute against the Dallas Stars on Sunday. Jordan Kyrou has been involved in three out of the four goals. He also extended his points streak to six games.

Extending streaks seemed to be the theme of the night, as Blues Starting goalie Ville Husso won his seventh straight home game going 7-0-0, dating back to last season, going with a 1.38 GAA, .955 SV%, and stopping 234 of 245 shots in 478:47 time on ice.

The first two periods felt much like an old-time heavyweight fight. A bunch of jabs with a hard punch every now and then. The Kraken struck first at the 15-minute mark of the first period.

Ryan Donato got the puck behind the Blues net. Making a move around Robert Bortuzzo, he tried a wraparound that Husso kicked out towards center ice in front of the net. Center Alex Wennberg came into the house and fired the rebound behind Husso for his fourth goal of the season.

That would be the only puck to get behind him. He stopped 31 of 32 shots. When asked about his growing confidence, he responded, “It’s just the practice every day and have the good habits every day. This has this year [has] been really good for me. Just need to keep working hard.”

Kraken backup netminder Chris Driedger was just as good in the loss, stopping 25 of 27 shots from the Note. He kept them off the scoreboard for just over 41 minutes.

All-Star Last-Man-In candidate Robert Thomas tied the game one minute and 29 seconds after the puck dropped for the third period. Torey Krug starts this play in the neutral zone with a smart pass to Thomas at the entrance to the Kracken zone. Thomas sent the puck ahead to Brandon Saad who took the puck behind the net, setting up the one-timer by Thomas.

Thomas when asked about 13 comeback wins this season: “Pretty resilient group, even when we’re down going into the third. We’re pretty confident… It’s a special group in there that fights back.”

St Louis entered the night with the league’s second-best power-play at 30.1% and a home percentage of 29.3, third in the NHL. The Kraken penalty kill leaves a bit to be desired, the 24th ranked kill sitting at 77.5% would seem to have their hands full. The sea monsters were up to the task, killing off four of the Blues’ first five penalties.

It was the fifth one that stuck a dagger into the loss column for the Kraken. Buchnevich and his young stud linemates, Ivan Barbashev, and All-Star Jordan Kyrou would combine on a slick Shot-sort of-tac-toe for the eventual game-winner.

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Kyrou took a hard shot from just inside this left circle that Driedger block out in front of the net, Barbashev collected the puck, went forehand to backhand, and blindly passed to “Bussccchhhh” for the one-timer.

The power-play goal was their 14th in their last 15 games dating to December first. They are the fourth best PP unit in the league during that time period and are one goal behind the Colorado Avalanche, which has had eight more PP opportunities than St. Louis. The Nashville Predators and Vegas Golden Knights also have 15 PP goals in four and six fewer chances, respectively.

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The Blues Penalty Kill continues to impress killing off all three minors, including a 6-4 with less than two minutes remaining in the game. The Blues entered the night only giving up only three short-handed goals. First Star Husso kept it that way with an amazing toe save on Joonas Donskoi.

“As a goalie, you just need to wait [for] what the player does and then make your move,” Husso said at the post-game press conference. “I was just trying to hold my feet, and I was lucky to make that save.”

He also could be auditioning for a new team. Husso, who is on the last year of a two-year contract, with an AAV of $750,000 according to capfriendly.com, is 5-2-1 in 9 games this season and carries a .935 save% and a 2.13 GAA. He should be due a raise next season. The 26-year-old may be too expensive for the Blues to re-sign and the cupboard is full with Joel Hofer and Colton Ellis waiting in the wings.

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Vince Dunn, the Kraken defenseman and former Blue, made his return to a roaring crowd when he was given a video tribute during a TV time out in the first. Seattle selected Dunn in the expansion draft. He played for St. Louis for four years and was a part of the 2019 Stanley Cup winning team.

Kraken left wing and former Blue Vince Dunn acknowledges applause from the crowd on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022, during a game against the Blues at Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Mo. Photo by Christian Gooden@post-dispatch.com Christian Gooden

Kraken left-wing and former Blue Vince Dunn acknowledges applause from the crowd on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022, during a game against the Blues at Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Mo. Photo by Christian Gooden@post-dispatch.com
Christian Gooden

Jaden Schwartz who was a first-round 14th overall draft pick in 2010 is on LTIR after having hand surgery and was not on the trip. He signed with the Kraken as their first free agent in the off-season.

Next up for the Blues, Austin Matthews, and the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday Night in St. Louis. The Maple Leaf Lost to the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday night and will face one of the hottest teams in the league at home.

Till next time hockey fans,

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Guy “Hawaii Hockey Fan” Bensing


@hawaiibluesfan @Bluenotereport

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