ST. LOUIS - For the first time in his Blues career, Paul Stastny produced a four point game scoring one and assisting on three other goals en route to the Blues commanding victory over the Penguins.
After playing two games with a full cage on his helmet, Monday Stastny wore a longer visor that he said gave him better vision on the ice.
“(It’s like) a new lease on life — felt like I could see so much more and not playing so hesitant,” the centerman said. “The game moves so fast and every split second makes a difference. It gives me a little more time to know where the guys are coming.”
The Blues tallied the first score of the game when Troy Brouwer, playing alongside Stastny and Steen, played the puck pulling Pittsburgh backup goalie Jeff Zatkoff away from the net. A pass from Stastny and Steen had a wide open look at the net. It was the first of three goals the line scored on their way to eight point night.
"We talked a little bit before the game that the last three few games we've been a little big stagnant,” said Brouwer. “So we wanted to be a difference-maker tonight and we were."
St. Louis gave up a late first period goal to Chris Kunitz heading into the first intermission.
I thought the first period was even,” said Ken Hitchcock. “I thought we played a pretty good first period, they played a pretty good first period. I thought we were outplayed a lot in the second. They were on us and they won most of the puck battles.”
The Note had trouble staying out of the box in the second taking three penalties in the span of three minutes. Another remarkable effort by Brian Elliott kept the Blues and Penguins even until just before the 16 minute mark. A neutral zone turnover put the puck on Evgeni Malkin’s always dangerous blade and he beat Elliott to put Pittsburgh ahead.
Not to be outdone by his fellow countryman, 78 seconds later Vladimir Tarasenko barreled past the defense and buried his 25th score of the year. The goal, his first in seven games, puts Tarasenko four back of league leader Patrick Kane.
“The battle of the Russians there,” Stastny joked. “I think once Malkin had that nice goal, then Vladi got upset. He took it in his own end and basically did the same thing a little nicer, a little more power move and a nice shot. I think that was a big response. Those kills I think were big. I think Elliott made some good saves there in the second.”
With the game tied once again the Blues floored the gas pedal in the third period putting the puck in the net three times. Inside the two minute mark, Stastny sent a puck up the ice for a streaking Brouwer who was able to knock the puck down and light the lamp.
"It came surprisingly flat to be honest with you when it bounced,” Brouwer described. “I just put a good swing on it, hopefully I get a bunch of it and I did. It was a good job by (Colton Parayko) keeping the puck in at the point. Hitch doesn't like it when we hang below the puck very often, but it kind of worked out."
It took nearly nine minutes more for the Blues to add an insurance goal. Brouwer skated deep into the offensive zone pulling two players with him as the puck bounced back to Stastny. He went top shelf where momma hides the peanut butter. It was just the fifth goal of the year for the 30-year-old who posts his first four point game since December 2, 2009. But Stastny was quick to praise his new linemate Brouwer with his ability to create space.
“I think those little plays where he drives middle and kind of brings both guys to him. It’s stuff like that where it forces you not to dump it,” said Stastny. “Where he’s coming across and I think sometimes you kind of slow down and you let him pick up the speed and I think that creates a lot of chances.”
The win brings the Blues to 61 points - two points behind the Stars who have fallen behind the Blackhawks with 66 points. The team plays three game before the All-Star Break including two bouts against Central Division foes making it a tall task to grab all six points before the time away from the ice.
“They’re all big,” Stastny added. “End of the break, after the break, before the break, it doesn’t matter. For us it was ending that home stand 3-1 instead of 2-2, so that was important for us.”