Sunday, February 27, 2022

Perron breaks through in place that derailed his season a bit with two goals in 4-0 win over Blackhawks

Blues winger was rolling along before sustaining concussion here Nov. 26, 
had hard time regaining scoring touch; Sunday allowed him to move forward

CHICAGO -- There was a shift early in Sunday's game against the Chicago Blackhawks that David Perron remembered what happened to him earlier in the season at United Center.

"I did think about it, the first time I went into that corner with McCabe again," Perron recalled.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues forward David Perron (57) goes to celebrate with teammate Brandon
Saad after scoring one of two goals in a 4-0 win at Chicago Sunday.

That's Blackhawks defenseman Jake McCabe, who was the one that put a hit on Perron in a game here Nov. 26, one that saw Perron fall back, and he hit his head against the glass.

It knocked him woozy and he would leave, only never to return that afternoon. 

Heading into that game, a 3-2 overtime loss by the Blues against the Blackhawks, Perron was rolling quite nicely. He had 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) in 19 games heading into it, second only to Jordan Kyrou in points (20) and second to Kyrou and Brandon Saad in goals (eight each).

But then the rails came off. Perron was diagnosed with a concussion and missed 11 games before returning Dec. 29. He played five games and missed two more after contracting COVID-19. It's just been a tough go offensively to get Perron back up to speed.

In the 19 games since he's been back from the concussion and COVID, Perron has nine points (four goals, five assists).

Two of those goals came in a 4-0 win against the Blackhawks Sunday at United Center that displayed all the glimpses of the old Perron, one that was a constant offensive threat.

His eight shots on goal and 13 shot attempts were a season-high, and he hasn't had as many shots on goal since he had nine against the Minnesota Wild on March 25, 2021.

Perron, who has 27 points (11 goals, 16 assists) in 39 games this season, finally felt like he was back.

"It feels good to score a couple for sure," Perron said. "It's been a different go the last three or four weeks. Things have been changing. We have a deep team and all that stuff. It's not necessarily the same way as it was last year or anything, but you've got to find a way to contribute and being physical every night, bringing momentum to the team. Obviously I want to score goals too and make plays."

Perron has played in this building many times. But the last one was one he needed to get out of his system and put a haunting past behind him, considering it's not Perron's first go-around with concussions.

"I was like, 'Alright, time to put it behind,'" Perron said when he encountered McCabe along the offensive zone corner. "It was nice to put a couple (in) and have a good game, good momentum. We're rolling right now, we want to keep getting better. That's the cool thing about our team. I think that we can keep getting better. We have a long ways to go. As we get to those tighter games as we've been talking about the last couple weeks, I still think we can get better, a lot better."

Blues coach Craig Berube has tried Perron on different line combinations to get one of his top offensive threats going, but putting him back with bread-and-butter partner Ryan O'Reilly always does the trick. 

"Yeah, I don’t think that he’s happy with his goal-scoring production," Berube said. "And probably we’re not either. But a guy like that eventually’s going to come around. He just keeps getting opportunities and keeps working. He got two tonight, but I think you could see him getting on a roll."

And why is that? What puts Perron in those scoring areas that make him a threat.

Simple. His ability to possess the puck in the offensive zone where his linemates (O'Reilly and Brandon Saad) can find him in those soft areas of the ice.

"Just getting second-quick on the forecheck if you're not first man in," Perron said. "Second-quick, you get that retrieval puck, you hang onto it, you're heavy. It just kind of creates that extra energy inside myself to want to hang onto it. Not forever, but kind of like not lose it easily, find guys in the middle of the ice. I think that's when you can see 'O'Ry' and I come together a little bit more. It's happened more, it seems like recently. On that trip in Canada, I felt like it was coming along and then we came through together one game in Toronto and we've got to keep going, we've got to keep on building."

Perron's first goal of the game was vintage Perron, wicked shot from the face-off circle on the power play.

The Blues snapped the puck around on a string on their second power play, culminating with Perron's 10th of the season, the eighth Blue to hit double figures in goals.

Perron, Justin Faulk and Brayden Schenn had the puck on a string, with Schenn's quick cross-ice feed to Perron in the left circle. Perron corraled it and whipped a shot top shelf by a sprawled Fleury at 18:08 to make it 3-0.

"Yeah, it's good to see him get a couple goals," Blues goalie Jordan Binnington said. "We know how good he is, how good a shot it is. It was only a matter of time."

And on the second one, he jumped a play in which the Blackhawks won a face-off, stole Dylan Strome's pass back and jammed one from the goal line short side on buddy and fellow Quebecer Marc-Andre Fleury at 3:04 of the third to make it 4-0.

It was the perfect example of staying on top of a puck even though the Blues lost possession of it.

But it's Perron's ability to possess pucks that makes him effective.

"Just his competitiveness on the puck. He’s one of the strongest guys that I know with the puck when he’s got it," Berube said of Perron. "He hangs onto it and he battles and he competes for it. He wins puck battles all over the place. Eventually, he’s going to get a good opportunity to shoot a puck. He’s got a great shot. We all know he’s got a great shot and he can beat a goalie."

Normally, it wouldn't take Perron this long to reach double figures for the season, but with the way things came off the rails there for a bit and the Blues' balance of players that can contribute on any given night, it gives the team a bevy of weapons.

Perron joins Kyrou, who scored his team-leading 21st Sunday, Pavel Buchnevich, who scored his 19th Sunday, Vladimir Tarasenko (19), Saad (17), Schenn (16), Ivan Barbashev (16) and O'Reilly (11).

"So many guys, it's crazy," Perron said. "Even a guy like 'Dak' [Dakota Joshua] jumps in tonight, I thought he played pretty well. He was physical, solid. It's good to get those guys to go out there on the last shift trying to help me there. It was funny. I've never really been in a situation where I'm just the shooter for everyone. I don't know if I even like it. I appreciate the chance to go out there and do that."
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues forward David Perron (middle) scored twice Sunday and was able to put 
behind the concussion he sustained earlier in the season in Chicago.

The Blues tried to get Perron his seventh NHL hat trick and second this season. They tried hard. 

In the final 1:09, the Blues were on the power play, and Perron, Torey Krug, Klim Kostin, Joshua and Tyler Bozak were on hand to try and get those Blues fans in attendance to shower the visiting ice with their hats for Perron.

"I thought he played a helluva game," Berube said. "Competitive all game. Did some real good things. Tried to get him a hat trick. (laughed) He had a lot of chances."

But Fleury wouldn't allow it.

"No, he's a good goalie, gosh," Perron said. "I had a good look there on the far side on the one-timer and on the next one, I think 'Bozie' had a great pass. If I shoot that right away, I probably have it and I just kind of didn't react well to the pass, I don't think, but it's phenomenal to see him go. He's had a bunch of really solid saves. You can tell he still enjoys the game no matter what the score is. He's working as hard as he can. He's an impressive guy for sure."

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