The St. Louis Blues scored three goals in the first period and it propelled them to a 5-1 win over the Canadiens Thursday night in St. Louis. Alexander Steen started the Blues off to a 2-0 start with the opening goals, one of them shorthanded. Chris Stewart made it 3-0. Jaden Schwartz and former Hab Maxime Lapierre finished the scoring off. Brendan Gallagher gave the Canadiens a small hope of comeback with his first goal in 12 games when the score was 3-0 but from that point Jaroslav Halak was airtight and the Canadiens weren’t. Shots on goal were 29-26 in favour of the Blues.
Adding It Up –
Not Their Finest Hour – Sorry, but two goals on the first four St. Louis shots simply doesn’t cut it. If there is one thing of which the Canadiens had reason to be proud, it was their first period defensive record. There’ll be only silence from the group after the entire team messed the bed in this one. The Blues scored three goals in the first 14 minutes. The Canadiens got an early power play and promptly gave up two two-on-one breakaways, the second of which wound up in the net. Alexander Steen scored on that one, and then got out of the penalty box to make it 2-0. Chris Stewart capped it, taking advantage of a less-than-enthusiastic back-checking job from Max Pacioretty to, for all intents bury the Canadiens.
Who’s the Goat? – Stastitically Alexei Emelin. Minus three in the first period and yet it’s hard to place blame on any of the goals that were scored while he was out there. It is a team game. And the team broke down in almost every department in the first fifteen minutes of this one. Emelin’s minus-3 might have raised an eyebrow, but his coach had different view because after the second goal we did not see a lot of Raphael Diaz for the rest of the game.
Shuffled – Lost in the early part of the game was the fact that Emelin started the game with Andrei Markov as his partner. And P.K. Subban was hooked up with Josh Gorges. This was last year’s alignment. Subban and Markov were back together on power plays again. Emelin’s problems began with those two early power play shifts with Diaz. Not his best night, but the entire Canadiens defence had problems connecting with one another.
Classic Effort – He’s only in his second year in the league but 90 percent of Brendan Gallagher’s goals have his personal stamp. In the second period the Blues, in one of their few mistakes on the night, left Gallagher unguarded in front of Halak. Halak made the first save but had little chance when Gallagher picked the rebound out of mid air. That’s a special talent. First in 12 games for the little guy. He’s due to get a bunch.
Didn’t Need This – For whatever Brandon Prust brings to the team with his toughness and commitment, and it’s considerable, drawing double minor penalties is not acceptable. With the game already 3-0 Prust was called for hooking at one end of the ice and then on the delay picked up a roughing penalty at the other end. That’s the second straight game the Canadiens have had to kill off one his excesses.
The Only Highlight – Fortunately the Canadiens have the league’s best penalty killing record on the road and second overall. They killed the Prust four minutes and the other four penalties called against them. But, as the coach will tell you, every penalty disrupts flow. And killing four minutes in a row really screws up the game plan.
In His Head – Knowing the demeanor of Carey Price, his record against Jaroslav Halak is something he can put aside. That is, unless we keep harping on it. It is hard to ignore Halak’s 4-0-0 record with a 0.98 GAA against the Canadiens since the trade. In this, Price was only witness to a train wreck. By the way, Eller who was the Canadien half of the Halak trade, contributed one shot on goal and has no points in four games against his former team.
Also Worth Mentioning –……….That’s four losses the last six games, if you happen to be counting. …..Rudyard Kipling might have had it right about East Vs. West when he wrote “never the twain shall meet”. The last two games against Western Conference powerhouses, the Canadiens have been outscored 11-1. …………The NHL put two referees on the ice because they felt the game had become so fast that one person couldn’t handle it any more. So what’s the excuse on that highsticking that cost Emelin some teeth in the second period. Accidental as it might have been, could it be not one of the four officials on the ice saw it. ….…..Will there be a time when Douglas Murray’s speed stops being an issue? Five hits in the game, 3 blocked shots and Therrien is confident enough in him that he logged 5:24 of penalty killing time. I can live with his mistake on the fifth goal. ….Numbers from the scoresheet —-Plekanec 5 shots (Pacioretty and Gionta – 4); Emelin & Diaz – minus-3; Emelin 7 hits (Murray-5); Blocked Shots – Murray & Gorges -3. Most productive line – Plekanec/Gionta/Galchenyuk –9 shots on goal.
Ahead – Nashville Saturday night and then a six day break at home before the Canadiens head on the final four games of the season’s longest road trip.