Thursday, December 29, 2016

Blues stayed on hunt in third period to help gain win over Flyers

When game was in balance, St. Louis stayed in attack mode when 
game was in balance, a stark contrast to recent games that got away

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Wednesday's 6-3 win for the Blues over the Philadelphia Flyers is a stern reminder of what's perhaps been lacking, or missing, in the Blues' game when the result recently has been in the balance.

The Blues and Flyers were tied 2-2 going into the third period, and this time, when Philadelphia took a lead within the first five minutes of the deciding period, the Blues didn't wilt.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues left wing Robby Fabbri (15) gets off a shot in front of Philadelphia's
Shayne Gostisbehere (53) on Wednesday.

They got on the hunt, quickly got the lead on tipped goals by David Perron and Scottie Upshall 1 minute, 20 seconds apart, and then instead of trying to protect the lead, the Blues (19-12-5) stayed on the attack.

"I think we're starting to feel the urgency of wanting regular success," Perron said. "Not just one win, one loss or whatever, two wins, one loss. We've got a nice homestand here. We want to put in a nice run here to go back on the road and hopefully follow it up there. I think that's the biggest thing. We're maybe feeling the urgency a little bit and I think it's coming through with the whole lineup."

The Blues pressed and pressured and Robby Fabbri scored goal Nos. 5 and 6 to complete his first NHL hat trick to open a season-long six-game homestand against one of the more hotter teams in recent time.

"It certainly isn't a game plan to protect the lead," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Quite frankly this year, we haven't had the lead very long in games. We haven't been able to put ourselves in position to manage games and sometimes you go through seasons like that where you're just clawing and scratching for every point and then sometimes during the year it kicks in. I think we're in one of those seasons where we haven't had a lead very much. We've been tied or we've had a lead and quickly it evaporated and we've had to play catch-up again. It seems like that's been this type of year where we haven't had opportunities to protect anything. 

"I thought what we did well yesterday was we really stayed in attack mode. We really played on our toes the whole game. After the the first five minutes of the game, we played on our toes, stayed on our toes and I think we saw what we can do offensively. That's a good team (in) Philadelphia. They've had one of the best records in the last 10 or 12 games in the league and we put a lot of pressure on them by staying on our toes."

The Blues got goals in hard-working areas and by getting to the net, scoring the type of goals that have been scored on them in recent games that have gotten away.

"I think we get the goals for the same reason," Hitchcock said. "It's extended zone time, so when we extend the zone time, that part opens up because you start chasing things and if you look at a lot of the traffic goals we've got, it's because we've had the puck in there, we've made them tired and then we've opened up space. I think when we hang onto the puck and when we skate, it seems that that's a big part of our game. When we try and make plays too quickly, then we allow the opposition to stay in coverage. ... It means basically the more we can make the opposition play straight-legged, the more the space opens up in the middle of the ice for us. It almost looks like you're on the power play."

And it's easy for the Blues to get caught up in the hoopla of the 2017 Bridgestone Winter Classic against the Chicago Blackhawks, a game that will be played Jan. 2 and is days away. But there's another big game Friday against the Nashville Predators, along with the one Wednesday the Blues won, that needs attention and one that got the Blues' attention.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues goalie Carter Hutton sprawls to the ice to cover up a loose puck in
front of teammates and lurking Flyers skaters Wednesday in  6-3 win.

"Obviously for the city, it's going to be one of the greatest events the city probably has had in the history, but I think for me right now, I'm focused on the next game," Perron said. "I hope everyone else is the same. For us, we're the lucky ones. We get to play in it, but we don't have much of the preparation to do it. It's all our organization, the city, many people that put this big event together. For us, we get to do the fun part and go play and that should be our only focus.

"... I think (Wednesday) we fed off the crowd, too. It was such a great crowd and to play in front of them. I think once we got the third goal, a lot of pressure came off. The great thing is even after 'Uppy' scores, it's 4-3, but you never know what can happen. I just thought we kept pressuring and doing the right thing. We had the killer instinct that we talked about that we want to have and we need to have to close games out and we did that."

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