Saturday, December 11, 2021

Lindgren gets best of Allen in battle of goalies facing former teams

Blues top slumping Canadiens 4-1 in Allen's first visit to St. Louis since he 
was traded; Lindgren faces Habs for first time since leaving as free agent  

ST. LOUIS -- The first matchup between the Blues and the Montreal Canadiens in more than two years had some special meaning.

More for the starting goalies than anyone.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues goalie Charlie Lindgren makes a save in the second period on former
Blue and Canadiens forward Mike Hoffman (68) Saturday.

For the Canadiens, it was the return of Jake Allen, playing his first game against the team that drafted him in the second round in 2008, the same Blues that traded him to the Canadiens on Sept. 2, 2020 for a pair of draft picks, a salary-cap dump so the Blues could have allocated money to sign their own free agents. And for the Blues, it was Charlie Lindgren, the fourth goalie on their depth chart playing due to injury and COVID-19 protocol, facing the squad he had played for five seasons but was cut loose after signing as an undrafted free agent.

Lindgren's Blues bested Allen's Canadiens, 4-1, to extend the Blues' to three straight and seven in a row at home. And for the guy that gets the win and who received the No. 1 Star of the Game making 22 saves, there was some oomph in his giddy-up afterwards, as Lindgren clutched his stick and got the congratulatory hugs from his teammates after earning his third straight win with the Blues.

Lindgren is now 3-0-0 with a 1.42 goals-against average and .947 save percentage since being recalled from Springfield of the American Hockey League.

"It’s a big game for Charlie and he proved why he's a good goalie and why they made a mistake by letting him go," said Blues forward Dakota Joshua, who scored his second NHL goal in the second period that made it 2-0.

Lindgren didn't get a ton of work Saturday, but when he did, he answered the bell, especially in a key moment right after an Ivan Barbashev power-play goal that made it 3-0, Lindgren denied former Blue Mike Hoffman, also marking his return after playing here last season, in alone after a turnover by Jordan Kyrou.

"He made some big saves at key times for us, one on Hoffman in the second period  was a huge save in my opinion going into the third period," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "I thought he looked solid. He looked even more comfortable tonight than he did in the last game."

"I thought (Lindgren) played great," said forward Matthew Peca, making his Blues debut after being recalled on an emergency basis Friday. "There was a stretch there where he didn’t see a lot of action. And he gets that Hoffman chance and he stood tall, made a big save when he needed to.

"He’s a pro. And you have to be to be a No. 1 goalie in the American League for a long time when he was in the Montreal organization. He’s been there, done that. He understands what it takes to win."

For Allen, the emotions were more physical than anything. He spent seven seasons with the Blues, who nurtured him after they drafted him before dealing him prior to last season.

"It's honestly been emotional, to be honest," said Allen, who made 33 saves. "I'm not an emotional guy very much, but I've been here since I was 17. I think every day since I left, I realize how great this place was for me, on and off the ice. Me and my family, so many friends. My best friends are still on that team, friends away from the rink. It's almost like a second home to me. It means a lot to be here."

Roughly eight minutes into the game and the Blues leading 1-0 when Pavel Buchnevich scored 1:03 into the game on the first shot of the game, the Blues gave Allen, who was 148-94-26, a 2.50 goals-against average, .913 save percentage and 21 shutouts with the Blues, they gave Allen a video tribute respecting and honoring the 2019 Stanley Cup champion's time here.

"It was nice of them to do that," Allen said of the Blues. "I got a heads up that they were going to do it. This organization's always treated me great. I'm still great friends with a lot of these guys and not even on the team, just through the organization. It was a great place to play."

Allen, who is second in Blues history in wins and shutouts, certainly had his ups and downs here and at times was part of the fan base's wrath when things didn't go his way, and certainly didn't have any words minced on the media's part at times, was the beneficiary of a warm welcome on this night.

A man that doesn't normally show a lot of emotion certainly felt it Saturday.
(St. Louis Blues file photo)
Jake Allen (right) spent seven seasons with the Blues before facing them for
the first time Saturday with the Montreal Canadiens.

"Yeah, a little bit," Allen said. "It was more yesterday coming through the city just being back. Even warmup was a little bit. There were a lot of signs and it was nice to see. It was good. I didn't know how I was going to feel before this game. A little bit anxious at the start. I just wanted to get it going, but obviously didn't start very well. I just wanted to give it my all out there. It's a helluva hockey town."

All in all, the Blues fan base recognized his accomplishments and they far outweighed the negatives.

"I think as time went on or goes on, I think I have a realistic picture of the good and the bad days were like here, but I think at the end of the day, I think for me it was more about being a better person, a hockey player here and I think that's why I still have a lot of connections with the city," Allen said. "I think I've made a lot of friends, lifelong people that I'm going to be connected with forever and it's a special place. I definitely miss it."

No comments:

Post a Comment