GLENDALE, Ariz. — For a while, this one looked all too familiar to the Blues when it comes to playing against Arizona.
Blues killer Clayton Keller scored the game’s first goal for Arizona. The Blues took some bad penalties (see: Pavel Buchnevich), and were having trouble with the Coyotes’ speed. But a second period outburst of offense gave the Blues a wild and crazy 7-4 win over Arizona that wasn’t complete until a Jakob Chychrun took a couple of cheap shots at Blues rookie Jake Neighbours, leading to all kinds of scrums with 3.2 seconds left in the game.
The Coyotes haven’t had much going for them in the standings in recent seasons, but the Blues have been a tonic. Since the start of the 2017-18 season, Arizona was 11-4-2 against St. Louis entering Monday’s contest a Gila River Arena.
Last season brought a particular brand of torture. Remember those seven consecutive Blues-Coyotes games last February? All told, the teams met eight times – and minus empty-net goals, all eight games were decided by one goal with Arizona going 5-2-1.
The Blues’ lack of success against Arizona almost cost them a playoff berth. Things looked eerily familiar for about half of Monday’s contest with the Blues down 2-1 and looking a little frustrated. Then things got a little crazy.
Starting with a power play goal by Justin Faulk, the Blues scored five goals in 5:07 to take a 6-2 lead.
That proved to be enough, but not before Arizona cut the lead to 6-4 with 11:37 left in the game, causing coach Craig Berube to call a timeout and give his players an earful. But Ivan Barbashev settled the coach’s nerves, at least temporarily, when his one-timer with 7:35 to play gave St. Louis a 7-4 lead.
The Blues, now 2-0-0, will close out this season-opening three-game road trip with a game Wednesday against the Vegas Golden Knights. Arizona fell to 0-2-1 after losing its home opener.
But it was a wild night almost from the outset. Let’s start with Pavel Buchnevich, who took a shot for his first goal of the season
And then took offense after Andrew Ladd took a shot at him.
The result was a match penalty for Buchnevich and a bloody nose for Lawson Crouse. Late in the first period, Ladd took a run at Buchnevich in the St. Louis zone. One the other side of the ice Crouse came after Buchnevich and appeared to cross-check him in the chest and in the face.
Buchnevich responded with a head-butt. That’s right, a head butt that left Crouse with a cut on his nose. All of this happened with 1:07 left in the opening period.
Crouse got two minutes in the box for his infraction. Buchnevich got a match penalty – which meant five-minutes in the penalty box for the Blues. Klim Kostin spent the time in the box with Buchnevich banished to the locker room. It would not be the last time Kostin’s name would come up.
Buchnevich almost certainly will hear from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, with a suspension likely.
At the start of the second period, the Blues were able to kill off three minutes of Arizona power play time – the difference between the five-minute major that came with the match penalty and Crouse’s two minutes for cross-checking.
But just five seconds later, Crouse scored on a one-timer from the near slot, which must have made his nose feel a little better. While two Blues were concentrating on Jay Beagle net front, Crouse was left uncovered.
Before his match penalty, Buchnevich had tied the game with his first goal as a member of the Blues. Torey Krug fed Jordan Kyrou with a stretch pass creating a 2-on-1 with Kyrou and Buchnevich. Kyrou waited and waited on the left wing, and then fed Buchnevich on the right for a quick shot to beat former Blue Carter Hutton who was in goal for Arizona.
The Buchnevich goal tied the game at 1-1, because earlier in the first, Keller struck again. Keller, who’s from the St. Louis area, scored backdoor near the end of a power play after Krug was sent off for delay of game for sending a puck over the glass.
Keller has more goals (seven) and more points (18) against the Blues than any other team in his young career. In the last game of the Coyotes-Blues series last season, Keller scored the only goal in a 1-0 Arizona victory.
On Monday, it was 2-1 after the Crouse goal in the second period. Then the Blues went bananas. The goal-scoring spree began when Faulk scored late on their first power play opportunity of the night.
That came with 8:50 left in the second period. Next came a goal by Kyrou, and then Kostin. Then Kostin again in what was his season debut. And then Kyrou.
And that was it for Hutton, who gave up eight goals to Columbus last Thursday in his only other game of this season. With the Blues up 6-2, Hutton was pulled in favor of rookie Karel Vejmelka with 3:43 left in the second period.
Six goals are six goals, but Hutton got next to no help from his defense, which was guilty of turnovers and overall sloppy play in their own end. Both of Kyrou’s goals came when he had all sorts of time and space. Both of Kostin’s goals were quick draws, the first one coming right after Kostin hopped on the ice.
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