03/25 23:41 CDT Blues beat Golden Knights 3-1 to close in on playoff spot
Blues beat Golden Knights 3-1 to close in on playoff spot
By WARREN MAYES
ST. LOUIS (AP) --- The St. Louis Blues paid a big price to obtain Ryan O'Reilly
and it's already looking like a bargain.
O'Reilly, Ivan Barbashev and Zach Sanford scored to help the Blues beat the
Vegas Golden Knights 3-1 on Monday night.
St. Louis acquired O'Reilly from the Buffalo Sabres last offseason for a 2019
first-round draft pick, a 2021 second-round pick plus Tage Thompson, Vladimir
Sobotka and Patrik Berglund.
Buffalo never made the playoffs in O'Reilly's three seasons there. He reached
the playoffs twice with Colorado, the last time during the 2013-14 season. Now
he's on the cusp of getting back into postseason play with the Blues.
"It's awesome. It's one of the best things in hockey when you're playing in
meaningful games and preparing for the playoffs," O'Reilly said. "It's what you
train for in the summer --- to go the distance. It's nice to be in this
position. It feels good but there's a lot of work left to do."
St. Louis, which has six games to play, sits third in the Central Division and
is closing in on a playoff spot. The Blues remained two points behind
second-place Nashville, which beat Minnesota 1-0.
Jordan Binnington made 24 saves for his 21st victory of the season. He is one
win short of matching Jake Allen's record set in 2014-15 for the most by a
Blues rookie goaltender.
William Karlsson scored for Vegas, which could have clinched a playoff berth
with a win. The Golden Knights are in third place in the Pacific Division, 11
points ahead of Arizona.
The Blues completed a sweep of their four-game homestand, outscoring the
opposition 19-8. They won all three meetings with the Golden Knights this
season and outscored them 12-5 overall. St. Louis is 4-0-2 all-time against
Vegas, which reached the Stanley Cup Final as an expansion team last year.
St. Louis struck first late in the opening period.
Las Vegas goalie Malcolm Subban, making his fifth straight start, threw the
puck behind the net but Sanford was there to control it. He skated out and fed
Barbashev in the bottom of the right circle. Barbashev threaded his wrist shot
between Subban's arm and body with 1:19 left in the period.
"I was a little surprised there," Barbashev said. "I was trying to shoot the
short side and how it got in between his arm and his body, I don't know."
Barbashev has four goals and five points in his last three games.
Subban wished he had the play back.
"I probably should have covered it if I didn't have a play, but I just kind of
threw it blindly behind," he said. "It's tough especially to give up the first
goal that I gave up. It's tough in a game like that."
Alex Tuch got free on a breakaway at 8:20 of the second but Binnington made a
Jay Bouwmeester was called for slashing at 13:14 and the Golden Knights
capitalized. Karlsson scored with 2 seconds left on the power play when he put
in a rebound of Colin Miller's shot at 15:12.
"I think they played really well," Karlsson said about the Blues. "They were
right on top of us and made it hard for us."
St. Louis regained the lead on O'Reilly's 27th goal when he snapped in a wrist
shot from the left circle at 18:14 after taking a pass from Bouwmeester.
O'Reilly had gone eight games without a goal. His career-best total of 28 came
in 2013-14 with Colorado.
"I haven't been shooting the puck very well lately," O'Reilly said.
"Bouwmeester made a great pass to set me up there. The goal came at a good
time. It gave us a little spark."
Bouwmeester gave O'Reilly all the credit.
"I saw him going. It was good play by him to pick it up," Bouwmeester said. "It
was a pretty hard pass. He's a good guy to get going on a breakaway."
Sanford made it 3-1 at 6:27 of the third. Robert Bortuzzo fired a shot and
Subban blocked it. The loose puck was airborne and hit Sanford in the neck as
he was on his knees and it went in for a goal. Alex Pietrangelo also got an
assist --- the 300th of his career.
After a timeout with 1:13 to play, Subban was pulled for an extra skater. He
finished with 19 saves.
"I thought it was a good game, a good hockey game by both teams," Vegas coach
Gerard Gallant said. "Obviously they got the three goals and beat us tonight,
but I thought we played well. We made a couple mistakes that ended in the back
of our net, but there wasn't a lot of room out there. It was a
playoff-atmosphere type of game and they played really well."
NOTES: Golden Knights G Marc-Andre Fleury and LW Max Pacioretty remain
day-to-day with lower-body injuries. ... Vegas D Shea Theodore and C
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare were late scratches. ... Blues D Carl Gunnarsson
returned to the lineup after being out with an upper-body injury since Feb. 5.
He missed 24 games. ... Ex-Blues player Paul Stastny was back on the ice in St.
Louis for the first time since leaving. ... Blues RW Vladimir Tarasenko needs
one goal for his fifth straight 30-goal season. ... The Blues improved to
11-2-0 in their last 13 home games after a 10-13-2 start.
Golden Knights: At the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night.
Blues: At the New York Rangers on Friday night.
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