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Blues get their game back, beat Sharks 4-1

Jim Thomas, St. Louis Post-Dispatch on

Published in Hockey

ST. LOUIS — Remember those shooting, scoring Blues of October? You know the guys who jumped to a 5-0-0 start and averaged five goals a game in the process?

Well, they returned to Enterprise Center on Thursday night with a 4-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks. Whether this was a one-night stand or a long-running engagement remains to be seen. But the return of these Blues was widely appreciated by those in attendance.

The Blues thus ended a four-game winless streak (0-3-1), their longest since an 0-6-1 skid from March 22 through April 5 of last season. And they did it with Ville Husso in net, back from COVID, and two goals from Brandon Saad.

Improving to 9-5-2 for the season, the Blues did it against one of the NHL’s hottest goalies. James Reimer entered the game second in the NHL in both goals-against average (1.71) and save percentage (.943). On this night, the Blues went heavy on the pepper, peppering Reimer with a season-high 48 shots on goal.

After all but “outlawing” the drop-pass by his players in comments to the media Wednesday, coach Craig Berube underscored his point by sending out the Brandon Saad-Oskar Sundqvist-Ivan Barbashev line to start Thursday’s game.

Berube has dubbed them the “Identity Line” because in his mind, they represent the way he would like the Blues to play. Intense, direct, “north” hockey. Suffice it to say there were very few drop passes Thursday.

 

He also sent the third pairing of Marco Scandella-Robert Bortuzzo out for the start of the game. And there was a method to Berube’s madness there as well. Because three seconds into the contest, Bortuzzo dropped gloves with San Jose defender Jacob Middleton.

It was a brief scuffle, and Middleton quickly got Bortuzzo on the ice. Little matter. The tone was set. There was much more energy and intensity by the Blues, qualities that were glaring in their absence in Tuesday’s embarrassing loss to the lowly Arizona Coyotes.

The Blues were more direct on offense. They made it a habit of keeping the puck in and maintaining possession. There were a couple of hiccups on defense, but overall, they were much sounder on that end.

And the Blues were on it from the start. They peppered Reimer with 16 shots on goal in the opening period. Many were excellent chances – and one got through.

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