After a rough start to the season, the St. Louis Blues are starting to turn things around.
Jordan Kyrou scored twice and Thomas Greiss made 40 stops on Friday as the Blues made it three wins in a row with a 5-2 victory over the Calgary Flames.
Coming off a 109-point season in which they went 49-22-11, it’s taken 31 games for St. Louis (15-15-1) to get to the .500 mark after an early eight-game losing streak set the team back on its heels.
But wins on back-to-back nights in Alberta and points in five of their last six (4-1-1) have the Blues back playing the type of hockey they expect from themselves.
The Blues were outshot 42-23, but Greiss was excellent in winning for the fourth time in his last five starts.
“We’re just playing very hard. Great team game,” said Greiss. “They had a lot of shots but I think around the net we played really hard and didn’t give them really any rebounds.”
WATCH | Flames fall to Blues at home, drop 5th consecutive contest:
It’s also been a disappointing season so far for Calgary (13-12-6), who went 50-21-11 for 111 points a year ago. The Flames are winless in their last five (0-2-3).
“The whole game was just very sloppy from our side,” said Flames centre Elias Lindholm, who had two assists, but also a costly turnover on the opening goal.
“We’ve all gotta just look at ourselves in the mirror and be better. Obviously, tonight, too many odd-man rushes and too many turnovers and I made a bad play there and it starts with me. I’ve got to be better.”
Pavel Buchnevich also had a goal and an assist for St. Louis (15-15-1) and Brandon Saad rounded out the scoring.
Dube was on a new line for the game with coach Darryl Sutter flip-flopping his top-six left wingers. Dube joined Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli and Jonathan Huberdeau dropped down to play alongside Nazem Kadri and Mangiapane.
Up 2-1 entering the third, St. Louis took a two-goal lead at 3:46 when a lapse in defensive coverage gave Buchnevich an unimpeded path to the net and he beat Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom inside the far goalpost.
Mackey’s second of the night at 7:40 briefly got Calgary back in it, but St. Louis restored its two-goal advantage 78 seconds later thanks to a bad turnover by Mackey, who backhanded the puck into his own slot where it was intercepted by Saad and promptly in the back of the net.
“I’ve got to be smart with the puck. I feel like I let the guys down there,” Mackey said. “I can’t be doing that right after we score to get right back in it.”
A minute later, Kyrou’s team-leading 13th of the year put the game on ice.
Flames futile on power play
A key moment in the game came in the second period with the Blues up 2-1. Three straight St. Louis penalties put the Flames on the power play for nearly six continuous minutes — including a 22-second two-man advantage — but against the league’s worst penalty kill, Calgary was unable to generate any dangerous chances.
Not only is St. Louis’ penalty kill the worst in the league, entering the game at 67.1 per cent, it would go down as the worst in NHL history if they end the season that way. The 1979-80 L.A. Kings own the all-time worst PK at 68.2 per cent.
“We did a really good job, especially 5-on-3. Bunch of big sticks and great blocks. Just battled,” said Greiss.
The Flames were 0-for-3 with the man advantage Friday, while the Blues went 1-for-2.
“We haven’t given up here,” said veteran Flames centre Mikael Backlund. “We know we’re chasing it, for sure, we’re behind in the standings. We know we’ve got to play better, win more games, and we’re gonna do it.”
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