Friday, September 27, 2019

Top line for Blues getting it going in 4-3 preseason win over Capitals

Schwartz, Schenn, Tarasenko account for eight points in first game 
together since Game 7 of Stanley Cup Final; Faulk makes Blues debut

ST. LOUIS -- Say what you will about preseason, but when you get down to the end of it, players, especially veterans are ready to just lay it to rest.

In most cases that's the consensus, but on Friday, the Blues' top line wanted to serve up an appetizer to what they hope is a monster season.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Jaden Schwartz (middle) receives congratulations from teammate Ivan
Barbashev after scoring Friday in a 4-3 preseason win over Washington.

Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz and Brayden Schenn kicked it into mid-season gear Friday, and for the Blues to have success this season defending their Stanley Cup, they will need their big guns to be performing at peak levels, and that trip did on Friday, combining for eight points (three goals, five assists) in a 4-3 win against the Washington Capitals at Enterprise Center.

A game in which the Blues (4-3-0) didn't play so hot in the first and third periods but played up to their capabilities in the second, it was the top line that carried the load in a game that saw the debut of defenseman Justin Faulk, who was paired with Alex Pietrangelo.

The body of work for Schwartz (one goal, three assists), Tarasenko and Schenn (one goal, one assist each) doesn't come as a surprise despite the limited amount of work they've had throughout training camp. This has been a mainstay line since the Blues acquired Schenn in 2017.

"We continue to get better here," Schenn said. "I think it was a step in the right direction for our line. We haven't really played together at all kind of throughout camp or games or anything like that. Vladi's been sick and guys going in at different times so it's good to get together as a line tonight, score some goals and contribute some offense."

Schenn and Tarasenko scored goals 23 seconds apart during a three-goal second to help erase a 2-0 deficit, and that's what they are capable of doing. The Blues sure hope it continues into the regular season.

"Obviously they get put in a lot of offensive situations and we need them to capitalize and produce, but at the same time, we need everybody to buy into that and chip in some goals and things like that," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "I do think they're ready to go, but I'm not going to make an assessment off tonight's game."

The goals scored in the second period looked like midseason goals. 

After Tarasenko's spin-o-rama to feed Schwartz for a first-period goal, Schwartz returned the favor to Schenn for a backdoor one-timer at 1:24 to tie the game 2-2, then a tic-tac-toe passing play, going Schenn to Schwartz to Tarasenko at 1:47 gave the Blues the lead for good.

"I think the three of us read off each other pretty good," Schenn said. "We know what each other is capable of. We have good communication on our line. It didn't feel like very long ago that we were playing with each other. It's nice to get one together here before the season starts and we're looking forward to getting it going."

With one preseason game remaining Sunday in Columbus, it was a good chance for the trip to get into some good habits, and they were able to do that.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues defenseman Justin Faulk (right) makes a play while Washington's
Chandler Stephenson tries to play the puck Friday in Faulk's Blues debut.

"That's the main thing. One thing to get some games out of the way, but you want to get rid of the summer habits and you want to do all the right things to win hockey games," Schenn said. "We all know how our start went last year. I think we did a better job in the second and third tonight, get rid of those bad habits and it's going to be nice to get the team fully together here and practice with one another and start competing with each other at practice before the season starts."

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