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Seven is heaven as Blues scorch Kings, 7-3, in home opener

Jim Thomas, St. Louis Post-Dispatch on

Published in Hockey

ST. LOUIS — The skating, scoring Blues are 4-0 for the first time since 2017-18 after beating the Los Angeles Kings, 7-3, before a raucous sellout crowd of 18,096 at Enterprise Center. But don’t make plans for the Stanley Cup parade down Market Street just yet. That ’17-18 team under coach Mike Yeo started 13-3-1 ... and missed the playoffs by a point.

But 4-0 is better than 0-4. And the Blues did beat the pesky Kings, who gave them fits last season going 5-1-2 against the Blues. The teams will do it again on Monday with a rematch at Enterprise.

After a skittish start, this one was almost too easy for the Blues, who scored six straight goals from late in the first period to early in the third.

David Perron scored his sixth NHL hat trick, five if which has come with the Blues. James Neal scored his first goal as a member of the Blues. And rookie Jake Neighbours scored his first goal in the NHL.

But the man who lit the fuse for St. Louis was Ivan Barbashev.

Barbashev has scored three goals in a game — he had a hat trick against Detroit on March 21, 2019, the Blues’ Stanley Cup year. But he’s never had goals in three consecutive games. Until Saturday, that is. With the Kings on the power play late in the first period, Marco Scandella swatted the puck of the neutral zone. Barbashev got a piece of the puck right around the far blue line.

 

It rolled a few feet away, but Barbashev was able to gain control and then swoop in to beat Kings goalie Calvin Petersen with a wicked backhand to snap a 1-1 tie with 73 seconds left in the opening period.

It was the ninth short-handed goal of Barbashev’s NHL career, which is now in its sixth season. He had an empty-net goal to clinch Wednesday’s 3-1 victory over Vegas, and scored a five-on-five goal in Monday’s 7-4 triumph at Arizona.

So three games and one period into the 2021-22 season, Barbashev was just a power-play goal short of a hockey “grand slam” — with a five-on-five, short-handed and empty-net goal.

“I had 'Barby' before in the minors and he scored 30 goals,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “He has the ability to make plays. He’s got pretty good offensive instincts.”

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