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Blues swat the Blue Jackets, look to tame the Panthers

February 5, 2019, 2:55 PM ET [16 Comments]
Jason Millen
St Louis Blues Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT

Blues fans are likely getting pretty optimistic on their team turning this season around after their 4-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday. The win coupled with other teams failures over the last few days, has the Blues with the 8th best points percentage in the Western Conference. I’m trying to be cautiously optimistic. Remember, their two game winning streak comes against teams who have lost nine games in a row.

Ryan O’Reilly opened the scoring a bit over eight minutes into the game, crashing the net and pushing the puck into the empty net. Joonas Korpisalo couldn’t handle the Alex Pietrangelo point shot, letting it squeak through his legs and allowing O’Reilly to push it into the open net. Korpisalo likely wants the 1st save attempt back.

The Blues would extend the lead to two with less than a minute left in the period. Carl Gunnarsson makes an excellent play along the wall, behind the net with sheer determination and work. His long board battle pays immediate dividends as he gets the puck to Vladimir Tarasenko. Tarasenko moves the puck to Brayden Schenn who feeds Gunnarsson for the re-direct into the back of the net. I love seeing plays like this as the result (Gunnarsson’s goal) reinforces the strong work Gunnarsson put in along the wall.

Oliver Bjorkstand would cut the lead in half just over six minutes into the 2nd period after a poor play by Pietrangelo. Tarasenko would bring the lead back to two goals. Much like O’Reilly his drive to the net allowed him to push the puck from behind Korpisalo into the open net.

Pierre-Luc Dubois would get a goal while the Blue Jackets had the goalie pulled before Oskar Sundqvist would add the empty net goal thanks to a poor play by Pietrangelo.

Schenn had three assists on the day to match Tarasenko’s three points while O’Reilly had two. Oskar Sundqivst had a goal and four shots with three hits and one takeaway. Yet another strong game from Sundqvist.

Of course, Jaden Schwartz had four more shots without a goal, bringing his shooting percentage down to 2.9%. He had a prime chance from the low slot but was denied by strong save from Korpisalo.

Tonight, the Blues will be in Florida with their dads to take on the Panthers. The Panthers are 11th in goals per game but are 29th in goals against. Their power play is 4th best while the penalty kill is 12th.

At home, the Panthers are 11-7-5 and are 4-1-1 in their last six home games though are only 4-5-1 in their last 10 games.

Jonathan Huberdeau leads the team with 50 points while Mike Hoffman leads in goals with 24. Derick Brassard had a point in his 1st game with the team. James Reimer is expected to get the start and has struggled against the Blues with only an 88.2% save percentage.

By all accounts, the Blues will keep the same lineup as it sounds like Alexander Steen wasn’t significantly injured by Pietrangelo’s errant stick in Saturday’s game. The full lineup is expected to look like this:
Schenn - O'Reilly – Tarasenko
Schwartz - Bozak – Steen
Sanford - Sundqvist - Maroon
MacEachern - Barbashev - Thomas
Gunnarsson - Pietrangelo
Bouwmeester - Parayko
Dunn - Edmundson

Robby Fabbri will be a healthy scratch again.

NHL Champions for Charity
We’ve gotten some traction on the charity wager among the Central Division bloggers. The fourth charity I’ll highlight is United Heroes League https://unitedheroesleague.org/ from your Wild’s Blogger Dan Wallace. United Heroes League works to ensure that children of military members are afforded every opportunity to participate in sports.

It’s a great day for hockey.
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