Friday, February 20, 2015

Blues explode for four in second, top Bruins 5-1

Lindbohm's first NHL goal, fight help in 
victory; Tarasenko scores twice, gets to 30 

ST. LOUIS -- To Blues rookie defenseman Petteri Lindbohm, it was an instinctive play. 

To his Blues teammates, it earned the kind of respect that can go a long way.

The Blues held a two-goal lead at the time against the Boston Bruins on Friday, but Lindbohm stepping in to fight the Bruins' Jordan Caron after the Boston defenseman leveled T.J. Oshie from behind not only fueled the crowd of 19,172 at Scottrade Center but the rest of the bench.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues defensemen Petteri Lindbohm (left) and Carl Gunnarsson celebrate
Lindbohm's first NHL goal in a 5-1 victory against Boston on Friday.

Lindbohm added his first NHL goal, and the Blues chased Bruins rookie goalie Malcolm Subban in the second period of a 5-1 victory Friday night.

Lindbohm, playing in his 10th NHL game, and the Blues had plenty to do with Subban's shortcomings.

The Blues scored three goals on their first three shots in the second period.

Subban stopped all three shots he faced in the first period, but Bruins coach Claude Julien pulled him in favor of Tuukka Rask after Lindbohm, Alex Pietrangelo and T.J. Oshie scored goals 4:21 apart to help St. Louis erase a 1-0 Boston lead.

Subban returned with 6:06 remaining in the third, but he did not see any more shots. Rask made seven saves on nine shots.

But with the Blues holding a 3-1 lead in the second period, the Bruins (0-4-2 in their past six games), were looking for a jolt.

They got it when Caron lined Oshie up in the Blues' zone. The crunching hit yielded a roughing penalty, but Lindbohm didn't care. He rushed to his teammates' aid and held his own.

"Of course. I'm a big, physical guy," Lindbohm said. "That's part of my job, too."

When Lindbohm came to the bench and went to the locker room for brief repairs, Oshie was the first to greet him on the bench with a tap on the head.

"He was the first star for us tonight for sure," said left wing Alexander Steen. "Everything from getting shots through, confident with the puck and then the part I liked best was sticking up for his teammates twice. I'm very proud to be playing with him today." 

Vladimir Tarasenko scored his 30th and 31st goals for St. Louis. At 23 years and 70 days, he became the youngest Blues player to reach 30 goals since Brendan Shanahan in 1991-92 (23 years, 63 days).

"I'm proud about it," Tarasenko said. "It's (the) first time I hit 30 with Blues team, and here in (front of) home crowd. 

"Kind of hard when I'm stuck on 29 and you try to score every shift so hard. I want to tell thanks for my teammates and my linemates. First one was empty net, second one was great pass from (Jaden Schwartz). We need to keep going."

The Blues (38-16-4, 80 points), who host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday and pulled within four points of the Nashville Predators for first place in the Central Division, got three assists from Alexander Steen and two from Schwartz. Jake Allen made 26 saves for his sixth straight victory. 

"We calmed the game down a little bit, started playing," Steen said of the second period. "The first, they came out hot and pushed us back a little bit. Jake came up big and in the second, we came out with a lot more jump and played a lot better."

The Bruins (28-21-9, 65 points), who lead the Florida Panthers by one point for the final Stanley Cup Playoff wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, have lost six straight (0-4-2). Boston lost center David Krejci (lower body) in the second period after he tried to hit Steen, who ducked at the last moment, resulting in an awkward collision with Krejci.

Lindbohm's first NHL goal came off an offensive-zone faceoff and pass from Carl Gunnarsson. Lindbohm's slap shot from the point caromed off Subban's glove and backside into the net and tied the game 48 seconds into the second.

"Great. I was waiting a long time," Lindbohm said of his goal. "It was two passes and it was easy to shoot. We had been practicing with Tarasenko (during practices)." 

Lindbohm made sure he credited Tarasenko with help on his one-timers. Tarasenko made sure of it.

"He tell you I practice with him, pucks every time after practice," Tarasenko said. "I give him passes every day."

When told Lindbohm credited him, Tarasenko joked, "That's a great teammate, yeah. ... I'm so happy our practices working right now."

Pietrangelo's slap shot from the left circle deflected off the stick of Boston center Patrice Bergeron past Subban 4:16 into the second to give the Blues a 2-1 lead. 

Oshie chased Subban from the game when he hunted down a loose puck and got it to Steen. Oshie beat Subban with a slap shot from the right circle at 5:09 to make it 3-1 after taking a return pass from Steen.

"We're dangerous and we can quick-strike," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We're really a momentum team. Once we feel and sniff out things, we really come at you, and that's what I really think we did in the second period. We sniffed out they were a little bit vulnerable, then we really went after it."

Tarasenko's power-play goal with 6:01 remaining in the second gave the Blues a 4-1 lead. After Steen's shot was blocked by Boston defenseman Adam McQuaid, the puck went to Tarasenko, who had an empty right side to beat Rask. 

Tarasenko's second of the game came off a backcheck by Jori Lehtera, who sprung Schwartz and Tarasenko on a quick 2-on-1. Schwartz fed Tarasenko in the slot, and he beat Rask at 11:45 of the third to make it 5-1.

"The line looked like it had tempo back again," Hitchcock said. "It was very effective. They were dangerous. It's one of the most dangerous lines in the League off the rush and that's exactly what they did, they scored off the rush."

Brad Marchand's 17th goal came off a rush in which his wrist shot from the left circle went in off Allen's glove at 10:42 of the first period. 

St. Louis' first shot of the opening period came on a harmless wrist shot from the along the boards inside the right circle with 7:46 remaining.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues goalie Jake Allen (34) makes one of 26 saves against the Boston
Bruins and Loui Eriksson on Friday night in a 5-1 Blues victory.

The Blues had a lengthy talk after the period and obviously the results changed.

"Just have a good talk in the locker room and kind of hard to play against a team like this and a team like tomorrow because we only play them twice in a year, but it was a really good talk after the first," Tarasenko said. "We can't lose anymore (in front of) the home crowd. We have a full house today and people wait for a win so we talk about it, we talk about sports, our fans and I think our goal is to build a championship team. That's what we try to do every game." 

Safe to say Lindbohm will stick in the lineup against the Penguins.

"Yeah, he was OK," Hitchcock joked. "He was good, he was competitive. I think the thing that we noticed is he's up to the tempo following the play better than he was here before. A lot of young guys pass and watch, hang back because they want to be safe, but I thought he's starting to catch up to the pace. He's passing and moving his feet.

"The goal was a heck of a shot. He's got an element from a competitive and a shooting standpoint with Shatty (Kevin Shattenkirk) not here is going to be needed. ... That stuff really grows on your teammates. Players really appreciate it. I think they're happy for him. They like him, they like him a lot."

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