The St. Louis Blues entered the night as one of the hottest teams in the NHL, having won six in a row. They finished the night as the hottest team in the NHL, winning their seventh straight while Chicago’s winning streak fell by the wayside in Boston. The Blues absolutely demolished the Devils 8-3 tonight at Enterprise Center in St. Louis. It was the first time the Devils had given up eight goals since an 8-3 loss to Tampa back on October 30.
The Devils, who were looking for their third straight road win, made a late announcement that Blake Coleman would not play tonight as he was missing his first game of the season with an upper body injury. Nick Lappin slotted in in place of Coleman. Lappin played on the third line with Pavel Zacha and newcomer Kenny Agostino. With the debut of Agostino, Ryan Murphy was sent back to Binghamton to make room on the roster. Steven Santini and Drew Stafford were the healthy scratches for the Devils tonight.
The Devils have struggled for the last few seasons against St. Louis and so has Keith Kinkaid personally. He got the nod tonight and did not fare well, stopping 31 of 39 shots against. But when you are bombarded in shots, 20-6 in the first period alone, you are bound to have a rough go of it. He finished with a .795 save percentage. Opposing him was the NHL’s first star of the past week, the rookie Jordan Binnington. He came in with a 9-1-1 record in his young career. Binnington was not very busy but did make 20 saves on 23 Devils shots against for an .870 save percentage.
Although the Devils did not play well by any stretch of the imagination, the power play was 1-for-2 with four shots. The Devils also had a shorthanded shot as well. The penalty kill kept St. Louis 0-for-2 on the power play with three shots. The Blues had two shorthanded shots, scoring on one of them.
The Blues scored early and often. Alex Pietrangelo scored just 5:08 into the game when he was left wide open on the left side of the rink and took a shot that was tipped in off of a Devils player, hitting a skate and beating Kinkaid. Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko had the assists on this one.
One minute and thirty-three seconds later, Ivan Barbashev scored to make it 2-0 when Kinkaid went behind the net, retrieved the puck and then promptly gave it away to Robert Thomas. Thomas shot on net and after a mad scramble in front, Barbashev put it in.
There was a glimmer of hope when, at the 10:30 mark, Agostino created a turnover in the Blues’ zone and found Pavel Zacha at the far faceoff circle with a backhand pass. Zacha then snapped the puck upstairs to make it 2-1 Blues. The assist was Agostino’s first point as a Devil in his very first game with the team.
From there, the wheels fell off for the Devils. Jaden Schwartz scored at 15:47 from Robert Bortuzzo and Tyler Bozak to make it 3-1 St. Louis. He shot through a screen and the puck tipped off of Zacha’s stick and up and over Kinkaid.
The second period began with the Blues scoring just 30 seconds in when Ryan O’Reilly was all alone in the middle, took a pass after Schenn intercepted a Devils pass, and scored to make it 4-1 Blues. Things were beginning to get ugly for the Devils.
About five minutes into the second, the Blues had seemingly scored again when Schwartz had a shot stopped by Kinkaid and then went crashing into the net to put home the rebound. The referee Wes McCauley waved the goal off, citing goalie interference. St. Louis coach Craig Berube used his coach’s challenge to have this reversed, but after a quick review, the call on the ice stood at no goal. The Devils had seemingly dodged a bullet, but that would not last long.
Mackenzie MacEachern made it 5-1 for real when he took a stretch pass from Pietangelo and scored on the breakaway. He was able to get behind Damon Severson to beat the Devils defense and beat Kinkaid glove side. Barbashev had the secondary assist on this one that came at 6:11 of the second.
St. Louis made it 6-1 before the second period was out when Bozak took a shot through traffic just as a Blues power play was ending. The puck deflected in off of Ben Lovejoy’s stick to give St. Louis the touchdown. Former Devil Pat Maroon was originally credited with the goal, but when it was clear that it went in off of Lovejoy’s and not Maroon’s stick, Bozak was awarded the goal. The assists went to Colton Parayko and Maroon. This one came at the 15:20 mark of the second period.
Maroon and Kurtis Gabriel would meet up before the end of the second as Gabriel went after Parayko and Maroon came to his teammate’s aid. The two grappled but did not fight. In the end, Gabriel was assessed a ten minute misconduct penalty and two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct. Maroon received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
The third period began, much as the second period did, with a St. Louis goal just 45 seconds in. This one off the stick of Pietrangelo four-on-four for his second of the game. He backhanded the puck over Kinkaid as he cut through the slot. The Blues had tacked on the extra point, it was now 7-1 St. Louis.
After five unanswered goals, the Devils finally got on the board again. This one was on a 5-on-3 power play. Vince Dunn was called for slashing Zacha 7:23 into the third and Bortuzzo was nabbed for interfering with Marcus Johansson at 7:48 to put the Blues down two men. Kyle Palmieri would convert to make it 7-2. It came off of a precision passing play by the Devils at 8:01 that saw Will Butcher go to Nico Hischier to Palmieri, who was in the slot and beat Binnington to break the Blues’ onslaught.
The Devils still had a few seconds on the 5-on-4 power play after that goal and the Blues’ Barbashev made the most of that. He scored shorthanded at 9:25 of the third from Alexander Steen and Parayko. This one occurred when the puck was shot over the Devils’ net and then retrieved and stuffed in near-side by Barbashev. That made it 8-2 Blues.
The Devils rounded out the scoring when Mirco Mueller found the back of the net unassisted for his first goal as a Devil. He snapped a wrist shot by Binnington at the 12:44 mark that deflected in off of a St. Louis player to make it 8-3 Blues. And that was the final.
Stats-wise, the Devils were out shot 39 to 23, won 48-percent of the game’s faceoffs, out hit the Blues 25-7, had more blocked shots 20-9 and less giveaways at nine to the Blues’ four.
Minutes were distributed pretty evenly across the backend, but Andy Greene ended up edging by Butcher for time on ice with 20:58 (including 3:15 on the penalty kill). Travis Zajac led all the forwards with 20:13 played (2:02 on the power play and 2:08 on the PK). Shots on goal were led by Zacha and Greene who each had three, hits were led by Agostino, Gabriel, Kevin Rooney and Eric Gryba with three each. Gryba also led in blocked shots with three. Takeaways were led by Hischier, Butcher and Lovejoy with one each.
Agostino’s final stat line read: one assist for one point, an even plus/minus and three hits in 13:06 of ice time (including 23 seconds of PP time) in his Devils debut. He also won 100-percent of the faceoffs that he took.
Next up, the Devils will have to put this one in their rearview mirror as they head up to Chicago to take on the Blackhawks. The Blackhawks, as noted, have been hot as well. Hopefully the Devils come out with a chip on their shoulder for this 8:30 PM game. We will see. In the meantime, please leave a comment if you wish below the article. They are always appreciated.