The Blues lost a lot of offensive firepower when David Perron and T.J. Oshie went down with injuries. Veterans David Backes, Brad Boyes, and Andy McDonald stepped up their games, as well as third-year forward Patrik Berglund. But Saturday night marked the second straight game in which the Blues’ defensemen were the ones to shine offensively.
Eric Brewer scored for the second consecutive game, Alex Pietrangelo scored his first goal of the season, and Erik Johnson and Tyson Strachan both added assists to pace the blueline scoring attack.
Forward Brad Winchester had another strong game, creating traffic in front of the net, and he scored the game-winner on a phenomenal deflection off a Strachan’s point shot. Ever since returning from a leg injury three games ago, Winchester has played like a man possessed, especially around the opposing nets, using his size to his advantage.
Matt D’Agostini added two assists for his first points in five games, and Backes and Boyes extended their point scoring streaks to six games and five games respectively when they both assisted on Pietrangelo’s first period power play goal.
Things didn’t look very good early on though, as New Jersey opened the scoring just 26 seconds into the game when David Clarkson picked up a loose puck in the left faceoff circle and scored over Jaroslav Halak’s catching glove.
Alex Pietrangelo tied the game with a power play goal at 9:22 of the first period when he fished the puck out of Devils’ goalie and St. Louis native Mike McKenna’s pads and slid it into the net. New Jersey complained that the play should have been blown dead, but the officials said the puck was loose and not covered despite four New Jersey players and two Blues players fighting for the puck in the goal crease.
The Devils bounced back and took the lead when Mattias Tedenby slipped by the Blues defense on a line-change and took as pass from Patrik Elias and beat Halak on a breakaway at the 9:53 mark of the second period.
New Jersey controlled play for most of the middle period, outshooting the Blues 14-9. If not for strong play by Halak in net for St. Louis, the game could have gotten out of hand.
Eric Brewer tied the game with a minute and two seconds left in the second period on a fluke goal off the end boards. Brewer ripped a shot from the point that went wide of the Devils’ goal, but the puck took a huge bounce off boards and bounced into the crease and off McKenna’s pads and into the net.
The Blues installed “livelier” boards this year, but this was the first time that they used them to their advantage by playing the bounce off a wide shot at the opposing goal.
The late goal seemed to give the Blues a little more confidence and jump in the third period. For most of the game they looked like a team that had just played the night before, which they did. They didn’t seem to have their legs for most of the first two periods, and as a result were noticeably outplayed.
Brad Winchester gave the Blues the lead for the first and only time all night when he deflected a shot past McKenna for the game-winning goal at 5:15 of the third period.
The Blues defense took over after that and held the Devils without a shot over the last seven minutes and 40 seconds of the game.
Jaroslav Halak, while looking quite shaky for the first half of the game, seemed to recover his confidence and focus after the second New Jersey goal and made 35 saves, including several big ones over the final two periods to hold the fort for the Blues.
BLUE NOTES: Andy McDonald and Patrik Berglund each had five-game point-scoring streaks snapped.
The Blues scored on the power play for fifth straight game.
This was the first loss for New Jersey in St. Louis since Jan. 25, 2001. The Blues are now 7-0 vs. Eastern Conference teams this year.
St. Louis improved their home record to 8-0-1 on the season, and are 14-0-1 going back to last year.
The Blues are off until Wednesday night when they travel to Nashville to face the Predators. Game time is 7 PM CT.