It’s been a struggle of late for the Blues to string wins together. In fact, that’s an overly generous way to phrase it. It’s been more than a struggle–it’s been impossible.
It’s not ideal, enduring a month and change devoid of a single winning streak. Fortunately for the Blues, they have also managed to avoid prolonged stretches of losing during that same period. Still, St. Louis views itself as more than a .500 hockey club.
Saturday established another opportunity for them to prove it; in beating the Stars 4-3 at Scottrade Center, the Blues once again met the prerequisites for a possible winning streak. They’re hoping this will be the time they can finally follow through.
This chance upcoming may not have come if it weren’t for the efforts of Kevin Shattenkirk and Patrik Berglund late in the third period Saturday. With the score tied 3-3 for much of the seesawing final frame, the pair concocted a masterstroke. Berglund’s brilliant redirect of a Shattenkirk blast came from the middle of the circle before floating to the net and over Antti Niemi’s right shoulder for the eventual game-winner with 1:54 to play.
All-around, it was a remarkable play at an impeccably good time.
“Heck of a play by (Berglund),” Shattenkirk said. “He made a good play to start, just to kind of relieve the pressure and get the puck around the boards to me. As I took it and looked up, there was really no lane for me to shoot. When I saw him coming around the net, I was hoping he’d go for the tip–and he makes a tremendous play. All I had to do was put it on his stick and he did most of the work.”
For Berglund to get enough mustard on the puck from such distance defied expectation, but he simply tossed the credit back to Shattenkirk for the supreme setup.
“Shatty put some heat on the puck so I just put my stick down and hoped for the best,” Berglund said. “I was lucky it went in.”
Whether luck, skill or both, it was enough to get the Blues a regulation victory against a divisional foe, ensuring it was a true four-point game that swung in their favor.
“A regulation win I think is more important for us, trying to separate from the teams in back of us,” said Paul Stastny, who scored twice and notched an assist in the win. “Obviously the first (win) is important, now we've got two days before our next game. This was an emotional game. When you play division games–whether they're 100 percent or not–we knew they always bring their ‘A’ game and it's always going to be a tough game against these guys.”
As Stastny referenced, the Stars were a bit banged up, skating without one of their standout forwards in Jamie Been. For the Blues, these pivotal home games should be about capitalizing on those advantages when they arise, as they did Saturday.
Now comes the tough part. The Blues have until Tuesday night to prepare for how they’ll manage to get this monkey off their backs. Jake Allen should be well rested for the contest after ceding to Carter Hutton Saturday due to the birth of his first child.
Tuesday will invite distraction, though, with David Backes making his return to St. Louis for the first time as a Boston Bruin. For everything that entails, the Blues have to focus on the task at hand–and they know it.
But knowing it and executing it are two different matters. By now, the players are hyper-aware of the lack of a winning streak. The burning question: what must they do differently this time to make one happen?
“We gotta win one,” Shattenkirk joked. “Again, on Tuesday. It’s a matter of treating Tuesday like we lost tonight. I think that’s something that we do such a good job of when we lose, is come back and play well. We have to treat Tuesday’s game like we have that hunger to get another win. It’s gonna be important for us to do that because Boston’s a team that can catch us if we’re not ready for them. Obviously David is coming back to town, so he’s gonna want to have a big showing, but we have to put all that aside and try to get a winning streak going here.”
It boils down to replicating a winning effort in consecutive games. The Blues have had no issue doing it after losses, as Shattenkirk mentioned. If they can find that same sense of desperation coming off a win, they might just figure out how to go streaking.
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