Goalie Jaroslav Halak and forward Vladimir Tarasenko have been the recent stars for the St. Louis Blues, especially in Tuesday night’s game against Calgary. It was Halak’s first game back after battling a flu-like illness since the Blues game against the Blackhawks on December ninth. He showed fans that he had made a full recovery through a shutout, an assist, and a new set of pads.
“When you go through the sickness, you’re low on energy and you get tired all the time but now, I’m trying to work my way back,” Halak said. “I’m not 100 percent back with my energy yet, but I battled through it and it was a big win for us.”
The shutout win was not entirely easy for Halak. The Flames, after a disheartening first period that left them trailing the Blues, stepped up their game and made six shots on goal within the first five minutes, plus one that hit the goalpost. The goalie proved his worth again and again as he blocked them all, never getting discouraged. A brawl nearly broke out in the latter part of the third period when Flames’ center Alex Stajan was evidently angry by Halak’s glove save after an attempted one-timer, however a few Blues players stepped up to defend their goalie.
This shutout comes just days after Halak was named as the starting goaltender for the Slovakian Olympic team. The game was also Halak’s 28th career shutout after making 33 saves in last night’s game. Halak has a save percentage of .911 and a goals against average of 2.31.
The team itself pulled together to score 5 goals from different players. The first goal of the night came from Chris Stewart during a power play halfway through the first period. Two minutes later, Vladimir Sobotka scored another goal, which raised morale for the Blues, who don’t usually have stellar first periods. It was during the latter goal that Halak was credited with an assist.
In the second period, Ian Cole scored his second goal of the season after being passed the puck while Flames goalie Karri Ramo was distracted on the other side of the net.
The third period brought with it multiple power play goals from Alex Pietrangelo and Vladimir Tarasenko. The goal by Tarasenko extended his consecutive point streak to five games.
Tarasenko is one player to keep an eye on during the rest of the season. He has been instrumental in the team’s recent wins and has caught the attention of NHL network newscasters because of his recent point streak. He has scored 24 total points this season (7 goals, 17 assists) and has a plus-minus of plus-9. He is also the left wing of a new second line combination with Patrik Berglund and Sobotka dubbed the ‘United Nations line’ because each player is on a different Olympic team. This particular line combination was largely credited for Tuesday night’s win against the Oilers and has been filling the void in points while the team point leader, Alexander Steen, is out because of an injury.
The win against Calgary also had some major statistical repercussions. The blues are now the division leaders for the Central division, finally overtaking the Chicago Blackhawks after being close on their heels for weeks. It also adds to their 10 game win streak, putting them at one less than the 11- game team record set in 1999. The shutout was Halak’s 28th career shutout after making 33 saves in last night’s game.
This game was full of achievements and was a wonderful way to welcome back the Blues’ starting goalie.