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Blues tame the Sabres, face the Penguins

December 29, 2018, 2:28 PM ET [10 Comments]
Jason Millen
St Louis Blues Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT

On Thursday night, the Blues started their home stand against the Eastern conference with a 4-1 victory.

Robert Thomas opened the scoring two minutes into the 2nd period on a play where Carter Hutton put the puck in his own net.

About eight minutes later, Jay Bouwmeester makes a great cut to the net and is rewarded with a good pass by David Perron, Bouwmeester shows a bit of a goal scorer’s touch with his shot placement, beating Carter Hutton.

Less than a minute later, Pat Maroon scores form the side of the net after a great pass and some brilliant stick handling by Thomas.

Buffalo got one back on a power play goal from Jack Eichel, continuing a disturbing trend of power play goals against that has seen St. Louis’ penalty kill fall to 11th in the league.

Ryan O’Reilly would get the last goal, scoring on his former team in the third period.

Today, the Blues will continue their stretch of games against Eastern conference teams when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins have the 10th best points percentage in the league largely because they are 7th in goals per game, 9th on the power play and 3rd on the penalty kill.

The Penguins travel to St. Louis riding a 4 game winning streak and are 9-2-1 in their last 12 games. They are 3-1-1 in their last 5 road games.

As you would expect, Sidney Crosby is leading the way for the Penguins with 43 points in 34 games. Phil Kessel is second with 40 points in 37 games and Evgeni Malkin is right on his heels with 39 points. Kris Letang leads the defense with 29 points.

Malkin and Crosby have enjoyed success against the Blues, netting 12 goals and 16 assists in 30 games. Crosby has been on fire lately with 5 points in his last 2 games and 11 points in his last 7 games. Phil Kessel has 4 goals and 3 assist and Jake Guentzal has 3 goals and 4 assists in the same seven game span. Letang has points in five of his last six games.

Matt Murray is expected to get the start. Murray has won 4 in a row while stopping 95.7% of the shots he has faced. His hot streak has only raised his season save percentage to 90.2%. Against the Blues, Murray has a 2.98 goals against average and a 90.6% save percentage.

Jake Allen will get the start though he has not fared well against the Penguins with a 3.18 goals against average and an 89% save percentage. Allen has only given up 1 goal in 3 of his last 4 starts.

Brayden Schenn and Alexander Steen have enjoyed success against the Penguins, posting 22 points in 28 games and 18 points in 23 games, respectively. Colton Parayko has 4 points in 6 games against the Penguins but has been stone cold lately, only earning a point in one of his last seven games.

Vladimir Tarasenko has struggled against the Penguins with only 4 points in 9 games. Jaden Schwartz and David Perron are still looking for their 1st goals against the Penguins after 18 games.

The Blues are expected to come back with the same forward lineup even though Robby Fabbri still sits as a healthy scratch. Alex Pietrangelo will return to the lineup, replacing Chris Butler. Expect the lineup to be this:
Schwartz - Schenn - Tarasenko
Steen - O'Reilly – Perron
Maroon - Bozak - Thomas
Nolan - Barbashev - Sundqvist
Edmundson - Parayko
Bouwmeester - Pietrangelo
Dunn - Bortuzzo

The Blues need to earn 67% of their remaining points in order to reach 97 points. They currently are earning 48.6%. Note that only 4 teams have played at that pace so far this season.

NHL Champions for Charity
We’ve gotten some traction on the charity wager among the Central Division bloggers. More on that to come.

It’s a great day for hockey.
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