NEWARK, N.J. (AP)With Vladimir Tarasenko, Ryan O’Reilly and Torey Krug sidelined with injuries, St. Louis Blues coach Craig Berube told his team people were going to have to step up. They have.
Ivan Barbashev tied the game late in the second period and set up Brandon Saad’s go-ahead goal early in the third to lead the Blues to a 5-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night.
”We talked about it, next-man-up mentality and I think it’s just playing the right way,” said Saad, who has three goals in his last two games. ”I think when you have injuries, you can kind of tighten it up. We’re checking a little bit better and when we get chances and opportunities we’re capitalizing on them.”
Robert Thomas scored twice, Jordan Kyrou tallied once and Jordan Binnington made 36 saves as the Blues improved to 7-2-3 in their last 12 games. St. Louis managed just 19 shots.
”We’ve got tons of depth,” said Thomas, who iced the game with an empty-net goal with 43 seconds to play. ”That was our key last year, that’s what made us so successful. And, you know, we got pretty much the same squad back. So there’s no excuses for you not performing when guys are out and injured.”
Tarasenko, O’Reilly and Krug are all expected to be sidelined from four-to-six weeks, so the Blues need to continue to step up, especially after an early 2-7-1 in November and early December set them on their heels
Jack Hughes, who has six goals in his last four games, scored twice for New Jersey and Nico Hishier scored on a two-man advantage with 7:51 left to play to make the end exciting.
Akira Schmid, who was recalled from Utica earlier in the day because of an hand injury sustained by Mackenzie Blackwood, made 14 saves in getting the start. Vitek Vanecek had played a night earlier in Detroit.
The loss dropped New Jersey to 10-10-2 at the Prudential Center. They are 14-2-1 on the road.
”We just want to continue to be successful on the road and we’ve got to get better at home,” Devils defenseman Damon Severson said. ”It’s as simple as that.”
Saad broke a 2-all tie 2:27 into the third period with a shot in close, his third goal in past two games and 11th of the season. The goal came after Dawson Mercer failed to get a shot on a short-handed breakaway attempt.
Thomas stretched the lead to 4-2 midway through the period with a power-play goal from a difficult angle.
The Blues gave New Jersey a chance to get back into the game when Tyler Pitlick and Justin Faulk took penalties 15 second apart. Hischier stretched his goal scoring streak to a career-high five games with a deflection of a Dougie Hamilton shot, but New Jersey could not tie it despite a couple of good chances.
The teams were tied 2-all after two periods, with Hughes scoring twice in the second period and with the Blues getting goals from Kyrou in the first and Barbashev late in the middle stanza.
Ondrej Palat returned tp the Devils lineup for the first time since playing in a game against Washington on Oct. 24. He had groin surgery on Nov. 1. He played 18 shifts and 14:24.
Palat was signed to a five-year, $30 million contract by New Jersey this summer. He was drafted by Tampa Bay in 2011 and entered the league in 2014. He won Stanley Cups with the Lightning in 2020 and ’21.
Blues: At Montreal in third contest of a four-game trip.
Devils: Play host to Rangers on Saturday.
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