Game Report: Blues 6, Panthers 3

By Nicholas Hand

The Blues moved within one point of securing the third seed in the Central Division with their win on the road Thursday night over the Florida Panthers.

Ryan Reaves, Vladimir Tarasenko, David Perron, Patrick Berglund, Alex Pietrangelo and Jaden Schwartz all scored as the Blues improved to 44-29-7 (95 points) on the season.

Jake Allen made 29 saves and improved his record to 32-20-5 on the season.

Reaves gave the Blues a 1-0 lead in the first period on a partial break at 12:16. Scottie Upshall created a turnover in the neutral zone and sent the puck to Reaves, who slipped a wrist shot through the five-hole of Panthers goaltender James Reimer.

Florida evened the score at 6:41 of the second period on Vincent Trocheck’s 23rd of the season. Trocheck converted on a two-on-one odd-man rush with a quick release that beat Allen on the short side.

The Blues regained the lead less than a minute later with Tarasenko’s 38th of the season.
Tarasenko fired a heavy wrist shot from the top of the offensive zone that hit off the crossbar, hit off Reimer’s back, and into the net. Schwartz and Ivan Barbashev assisted on the goal at 7:37.

The Blues carried the lead into the third period but surrendered it just 55 seconds in on Michael Matheson’s seventh goal of the season.

An incredible goal from Perron gave the Blues a 3-2 lead at 5:36.

Colton Parayko sent a pass to Perron who toe-dragged across the crease and floated a forehand shot over Reimer for his 18th of the season.

The Blues surrendered their third lead of the game with Denis Malgin scoring his fifth of the season at 7:45.

The Blues took their fourth lead of the game with 9:23 remaining in regulation on the power play with Berglund’s 23rd goal of the season.

With just seconds remaining in the man advantage, Perron won a puck battle along the board and found an open Jordan Schmaltz at the point. Schmaltz sent a shot-pass to Berglund who redirected the puck into the net.

After a delay of game minor penalty on Matheson, the Blues again went on the power play with 7:27 remaining in the game.

The Blues took a 5-3 lead with a terrific passing sequence on the man advantage after catching the Panthers penalty killers up ice on a shorthanded chance.

Tarasenko sent an outlet pass to Jori Lehtera into the offensive zone who sent a cross-ice pass to Schwartz who found Pietrangelo in front of the net for a tap-in goal.

Pietrangelo’s 14th goal of the season extended a career-high for the Blues captain.
Schwartz put the exclamation point on the win with an empty-net goal with 59 seconds remaining for the 6-3 final.

Of Note: Vladimir Sobotka will join the team in Carolina and is expected to play. Sobotka re-joined the Blues on Thursday signing a 3-year, $10.5 million extension. He is playing the remainder of this season on his prorated arbitration award from July 2014 after playing three seasons in the KHL… The Blues were two for four on the power play on Thursday. The Blues had previously scored only one goal in their previous 20 power play attempts, and that was into an empty net… Schwartz (1 goal, 2 assists) and Perron,
Pietrangelo, Tarasenko (1 goal, 1 assist) all had multi-point games.

Looking Ahead: The Blues play their final road game of the regular season on Saturday night in Carolina against the Hurricanes before ending the regular season at home on Sunday against Colorado. Just one point in either of those games will lock up the third seed, and a matchup against Minnesota in the first round of the playoffs, regardless of what Nashville does.