Viewers club during the NHL pause: St. Louis Blues vs. Vegas Golden Knights

NHL News

Game of the day: St. Louis Blues at Vegas Golden Knights, played on Feb. 13.

The Blues returned to the ice for the first time since Jay Bouwmeester collapsed on the bench in Anaheim. There was some catharsis when St. Louis scored 25 seconds in, but that just foreshadowed a wide-open game between two of the best Western Conference teams. Vegas was coming off a 4-0 blanking by the Minnesota Wild at home and hadn’t won at T-Mobile Arena in over a month; in fact, the Golden Knights were looking for their first home win under new coach Peter DeBoer. St. Louis hadn’t been great on the road to that point, and it entered the game on an uncharacteristic 2-6-2 slide. This game featured 11 total goals and needed overtime to determine a winner.

Go here to watch the replay of the game, and follow along below with our handy guide:

Best moments of the game

That opening camera shot. This is the local Las Vegas telecast of the game, so apologies if this is standard for their broadcasts. But the glowing outline of the giant logo helmet that’s on the ice during the Golden Knights’ unbeatable pregame fanfare, with the smoke fluming off of it, is like something out of Mordor. (Fun fact: The giant helmet has a name, and that name is Elvis.)

Zach Sanford‘s goal 25 seconds in. This obviously was a jolt of energy for the Blues, but it was even more special for Sanford, who ended up with his first career hat trick and was on one of the hottest stretches in his career. (Following his four-goal outburst in this contest, Sanford had 13 points in the next nine games.) The Blues were on their dad’s trip, and Sanford’s father, Michael, died in his sleep in 2018 and never got to see his son play an NHL game in person. Sanford brought a lifelong friend on the trip, instead. “Obviously, I’d really want to have [my dad] here,” Sanford said afterward. “I think he was watching over tonight and maybe helping out a little bit too.”

Alex Tuch‘s game-tying goal with 4:40 left. First off, excellent celebration by Tuch, who was playing in his 200th NHL game. He wasn’t having the best night, and he took a penalty earlier in the period. Tuch entered having scored two goals in his previous 27 games. Unfortunately, this would be the last we would see of Tuch prior to the NHL’s coronavirus pause. He crashed into the boards with 2:41 remaining in the third, hobbling off the ice without putting any weight on his left leg.

This game will forever be remembered as the first one the Blues played after Bouwmeester’s health issue, and at the 18-minute mark, we get a glimpse of how that played inside the arena. There’s a young girl in a Blues jersey with a “Get Well, J-Bo” sign. There’s also a large “Get Well Soon” banner that the Golden Knights had fans sign for Bouwmeester in the concourse. Inspiring stuff.


Players to watch

Max Pacioretty, LW, Golden Knights. The Golden Knights were starting to test out a new-look second line featuring Pacioretty, Mark Stone and William Karlsson. They would be tasked with slowing down the Blues’ top line. Any line featuring Stone and Karlsson would be decent defensively, but what type of chemistry could these three drum up on offense? (Spoiler alert: a lot).

Jordan Binnington, G, Blues. The Blues goaltender came in 2-0-0 in his career against the Golden Knights, having allowed only three total goals. Binnington was put to work here, as the Golden Knights controlled play (especially in the second and third periods) and had an edge in Corsi for percentage as well as high-danger chances. It hadn’t been a great defensive stretch for the Blues, who entered this game having allowed 3.82 goals per game over their prior 10 outings.

Jonathan Marchessault, C, Golden Knights. Of his 18 goals on the season, only four had come on the power play, and entering this contest, he had one power-play goal in his previous 23 games. Just keep that in mind when you watch (especially at the end of the second period and in overtime).


Goals

Power plays

  • Golden Knights at 1:50 of the first period (Robert Bortuzzo gets two minutes for cross-checking)

  • Golden Knights at 2:36 of the first period (Jordan Kyrou gets two minutes for tripping)

  • Blues at 16:34 of first period (Jonathan Marchessault gets two minutes for tripping)

  • Golden Knights at 18:03 of the second period (Jordan Kyrou gets two minutes for holding)

  • Golden Knights at 5:02 of the third period (Carl Gunnarsson gets two minutes for holding)

  • Blues at 9:34 of the third period (Alex Tuch gets two minutes for tripping)

  • Golden Knights at 1:26 of OT (Jaden Schwartz gets two minutes for hooking)


Best-dressed coach

Vegas coach DeBoer went with an olive green suit jacket and a slightly lighter tie. Craig Berube opted for a gray jacket, a standard-issue light blue button-down and a criss-cross pattern tie in Blues colors. While DeBoer was dressed perfectly for a maitre d’ at a high-end steakhouse, we have to give the nod here to Berube for his undeniable team spirit.


Most random crowd shot

A quick glance at Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden and team owner Mark Davis, following a commercial break with 13:50 left in the second period.

Worst decision

That probably could have been a penalty shot for Marchessault at 1:26 of overtime when Jaden Schwartz hooked him. There wasn’t the separation you usually see on a penalty shot call, which provides a bit of cover to the officials. But Marchessault was clear of both Blues defenders at the time of the infraction. The hockey gods agreed, giving Marchessault the game winner on the ensuing power play.


Other highlights and lowlights

  • The Ryan O’Reilly forecheck, steal and ensuing support on Sanford’s second goal at 9:41 of the first period is the stuff that the Selke Trophy is made of.

  • Check out the sequence leading to Sanford’s third goal, as Malcolm Subban makes a blocker save off the crossbar so good that the graphics person mistakenly made it 4-2 Blues … until Subban’s team coughed up another puck and Sanford made it 4-2 anyway.

  • At 14:55 of the second period, David Perron of the Blues got into a wrestling match with one of his former Golden Knights teammates, and it was … Ryan Reaves? Heat of the moment or some backstory there?

  • Get ready to hockey nerd out on Marchessault’s power-play goal at 18:59 of the second period. Watch Mark Stone direct traffic on the power play, telling Shea Theodore to clear away a broken stick to open up the passing lanes. He passes to Theodore, then gets the puck right back. Marchessault smartly pops up high in the slot, and Stone — knowing that O’Reilly is trying to defend him without a stick — quickly feeds him for a one-timer. Drool …

  • Tuch began his scoring sequence by just shoving Vince Dunn to the ice, and for the rest of his shift, it looked like his GPS was malfunctioning.


Lingering questions we have after this game

  • The Golden Knights were just ninth in the NHL on the power play at 22% when the season paused. How? They looked incredible almost every time they had the man advantage here.

  • Did the Blues fill the Bouwmeester void? After the Blues placed Bouwmeester on injured reserve, they called up Niko Mikkola from the AHL, who was a fill-in when Colton Parayko was injured earlier in the season. They acquired Marco Scandella from Montreal at the trade deadline, and he had one assist in 11 games with a minus-5.9 relative Corsi.

  • Did Malcolm Subban get a raw deal? Granted, Robin Lehner — whom the Golden Knights acquired from Chicago in a package that included Subban going to the Blackhawks — is an undeniable upgrade. But those five goals and a .792 save percentage in this game weren’t entirely on Subban, thanks to that parade of turnovers. This game marked only Subban’s third start in calendar 2020, and it was clear the Golden Knights didn’t have full trust in their backup.

  • Will the Golden Knights ever beat the Blues in regulation? Since Vegas entered the NHL in 2017-18, the Blues are now 5-0-4 against the Golden Knights — and remain the only team in the NHL that has not suffered a regulation loss to Vegas.

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