Tonight’s game was the first time since 2001 that an expansion team played the Blues in St. Louis, when the Blues took on the Minnesota Wild, a team that has since become a Central Division rival. The Golden Knights have had a stellar year for a team that was just introduced into the league this season. The Knights are 27-9-2 and lead the Western Conference Pacific Division. The Blues have played four more games than the Knights, but still trail the Knights in points by 4. The Blues were in second place in the Central Division before tonight’s game, trailing the Winnipeg Jets by one point. Tonight’s game was sure to be a tough challenge for the Blues, and especially for starting goaltender Carter Hutton, whose play on Tuesday night lead the Blues to a 3-2 shootout victory over the Devils. This was Hutton’s third straight start over Jake Allen, whose recent struggles in net have placed him in a situation where he could lose the starting position. This game was sure to be one to remember, and also one for the record books.
The Blues began the scoring in the first period, with Steen netting his fifth of the year. With the Blues swarming the offensive zone, Brayden Schenn found Steen in the slot and shuffled the puck to his linemate. Steen stole the advantage of a screen in front of the net and fired a wicked wrister than slid just under the pad of Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. The Blues dominated for the majority of the first period, though were only able to deposit one goal. The Blues took a 1-0 lead into the second period, their second time doing so in as many games.
Everything was going smoothly for the Blues, until Erik Haula scored his fifteenth of the year with just under ten minutes left in the second period. James Neal was fighting along the boards with a couple of Blues players for the puck, and when it finally trickled out of the chaos, Neal spotted an open Haula a few feet away. A quick pass was dished to the Haula, who shot the puck towards the Blues goal. Hutton did not seem aware of the where the puck was, so when the puck was heading towards him, he did not have enough time to react, and the puck soared past his waist for a goal. The Blues’ momentum collapsed after this goal, and for the remainder of the period, the Knights outplayed the Blues. Thankfully, Hutton denied the Knights another goal numerous times, carrying the Blues until the buzzer sounded and the period came to a close. The Blues, though outshooting the Golden Knights 26-20, the Blues found themselves tied with the dangerous team from Las Vegas entering the third period.
The Blues regathered themselves and came back into the third period with renewed momentum, which ultimately lead to them scoring the goal that would place them ahead of the Knights 2-1 early in the period. The goal was Paul Stastny’s eighth of the year. Sobotka fired the puck on goal, causing a scrum in front of the net. The original shot had been saved by Fleury, but he was unable to melt it down. Paul Stastny took advantage of the loose puck and knocked it free from Fleury’s pad, and the puck trickled into the net for a goal. The Blues were now winning 2-1 against one of the hottest teams in the NHL, and had also outplayed the spectacular team for a majority of the game, a huge accomplishment given the Blues’ recent hardships. The Blues carried this lead all the way to the end, holding on to defeat the Knights 2-1.
This win is now Hutton’s third straight, a stretch that has seen an unconfident Blues team play a little better with each game. The Blues first star of the game was once again Carter Hutton, who allowed just one goal on 33 Golden Knights shots. This is now Hutton’s 10th quality start of the season in 11 games started. The game was a hard-fought victory, and the Blues now stand 1 point ahead of the Jets in the Central Division. A week ago, the Blues were in third place, and now they are right back in the fray for the battle for the Central.
The Blues will face the Philadelphia Flyers in Philadelphia on Saturday for their next game. The game will commence at 12:00 PM CT. It will be Brayden Schenn’s first return to the City of Brotherly Love, and it will also be the Blues’ second time facing Jori Lehtera since the trade. The Blues will be searching for their fourth straight win, and we will keep up to date on whether Hutton will once again be starting on Saturday, though it is almost certain that if this happens, he will be on the bench Sunday when the Blues face an even more difficult team in the Washington Capitals. The Blues will have to face two difficult teams this weekend, but they can sit back and relax after beating the Golden Knights tonight.