Tracking the Storm: Analysis from St. Louis
-- After the Carolina Hurricanes’ offense came alive in a 5-2 win over Buffalo on Thursday and the St. Louis Blues scored 20 goals in their last three games, it only figures that this meeting would be a back-and-forth offensive showcase. Ultimately, the St. Louis Blues got the better of the Carolina Hurricanes in a 5-4 shootout decision.
"They're one of the top teams in the league, and we took them right to the end," Riley Nash said.
"I thought it was a good game. I thought it was a high-end game," head coach Bill Peters said. "It was a little loose at times by use, but we scored four. I thought we moved the puck, at times, real well."
-- The Hurricanes were the quicker-starting team tonight, as they put up three goals on a flat Blues squad. It was the first time the Canes have scored thrice in the first period since they did so in Colorado on Nov. 22.
Victor Rask tallied first, a shot from the near boards that deflected off Chris Butler’s skate and through Brian Elliott’s five hole.
"We wanted to come out and play hard, and I think we did," Jiri Tlusty said. "We had some lucky bounces that went in. We were happy with the way the first period went."
About four minutes later, Alexander Steen cashed in on a rebound for his 12th goal of the season to tie the game. But then the Canes would begin to pull away, as they controlled much of the play for the remainder of the period.
Jeff Skinner scored on an absolutely filthy wrist shot that beat Elliott top-shelf. That was his second goal in as many games. Alexander Semin recorded the secondary assist on the play, his second helper in as many games, as well, as that duo of wingers continues to be an offensive threat.
At the 12:32 mark, Eric Staal stretched the Canes’ lead to 3-1, as he raced up the ice, got Elliott sliding out of the net and then tucked the puck in opposite side for his 13th of the season. Staal has now scored goals in three straight games and six of his last seven.
Elliott’s night was done following that goal, as he allowed three goals on 10 shots. Jake Allen entered in relief.
"We're a better team offensively now that we have some pieces back," Peters said. "We expected to score, and we've expected to score all year. I thought we could have had a couple more here tonight, but we got a couple bounces, too. Let's not kid ourselves. It will all even out in the end, but we should be able to score more consistently in the second half."
-- The Blues, perhaps predictably, pushed back after the uninspired first period.
"There's a lot of hockey left to be played against a good team," Peters said. "At 3-1 with 40 minutes to go, if you thought it was over, you're not paying attention."
They scored two goals in 54 seconds time just a few minutes into the middle frame, as Jaden Schwartz capitalized on a defensive zone turnover and Patrick Berglund’s shot found its way through a screen to even the score at three.
"It's always disappointing to give up a lead ... but you have to keep playing," Peters said.
The Blues would continue to control zone time until later in the period when Riley Nash gave the Canes a lead once again, slipping one past Jake Allen.
"That was a great effort from everyone, and we played a solid game," Tlusty said. "We knew they had a lot of skill there, but we played a high-tempo game and didn't give them much space."
In the third period, Vladamir Tarasenko tapped in his own rebound to tie the game at four.
-- Barret Jackman put a dangerous hit on a defenseless Nathan Gerbe in the first period. Gerbe was helplessly sliding on the ice when Jackman, who made no attempt to avoid contact, put an elbow right into Gerbe’s head.
Tim Gleason immediately took matters into his own hands, going toe-to-toe with the 6-foot, 203-pound defenseman. He landed some good shots on Jackman before tackling him to the ice, as his teammates responded with stick taps from the bench.
-- Elias Lindholm skated in his 100th career game tonight.
-- The Hurricanes will now again return home for a pair of cross-conference match-ups. They’ll host the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday and the Vancouver Canucks on Friday.
"For the most part, I thought we did a good job. I'm pleased to come into St. Louis on the road against a team playing real well and get a point out of that. I'll take that point," Peters said. "Would I have liked the other, the additional point? For sure, I would have. But we'll learn from this game and move on."
"We come out and battle every night. There's not much give up in us, whether we're down two or up two," Nash said. "We always go for it, and that's a good sign for a young team like us."