Brayden Schenn scored twice, Ivan Barbashev had a goal and two assists, and Jordan Kyrou collected a goal and a helper as the St. Louis Blues thumped the tired-looking Florida Panthers by a 6-2 count at Enterprise Center.
Spencer Knight made his first NHL start since January 8th and looked rusty. Knight surrendered five goals on 27 shots.
Schenn opened the scoring 11:27 into the first with a fortuitous power-play goal. After taking a pass from Robert Thomas, Torey Krug let go of a shot that struck Schenn, hit the back boards and then caromed in off of the back of Knight’s skate.
He got his second of the night 35 seconds into the middle frame by snapping a shot by Knight from the left circle on an odd-man rush with the lone assist going Kyrou.
Nick Leddy made it 3-0 by going end-to-end and cutting from right to left before solving a frozen Knight’s glove for his second of the season.
After matching his career-high in points in St. Paul. Eetu Luostarinen established a new one when he notched his 13th goal and 27th point with 1:16 left in the period. Carter Verhaeghe whacked the puck behind the net to Matthew Tkachuk, and he set up Luostarinen in front for the finish.
27th point of the season for Eetu, a new career high. pic.twitter.com/GV41z7bah1— Jameson Olive (@JamesonCoop) February 15, 2023
Ryan O’ Reilly and Kyrou scored 20 seconds apart in the third to snuff out any hope of a potential Cardiac Cats comeback.
Verhaeghe picked up his 29th, from Tkachuk and Brandon Montour, at the 13:28 mark, beating Jordan Binnington with a laser from just above the right circle.
Verhaeghe's 29th goal of the season.— Jameson Olive (@JamesonCoop) February 15, 2023
2nd assist of the night for Tkachuk. pic.twitter.com/Nc5thCMHuI
Barbashev would complete the scoring with an unassisted empty net goal with 2:48 left in the game.
If one looked at how Paul Maurice distributed the ice time in Minnesota and then took into consideration that this was Knight’s first NHL game in roughly five weeks, one would’ve expected a result similar to the one we got. The Panthers looked tired and didn’t show much interest in defending. They failed to generate a power-play goal for the fourth straight game, as well. In a stroke of good fortune, the Cats got some help from the Carolina Hurricanes, who edged the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena. That leaves the Panthers two points behind Washington heading into Thursday night’s head-to-head match-up. That is simply one Florida can’t afford to lose.
Sharps & Flats
- Matthew Tkachuk’s two-assist performance moved him up to fourth in the league in scoring. Tkachuk’s 75 points puts up behind Connor McDavid (97), Leon Draisaitl (79) and Nikita Kucherov (78).
- Aaron Ekblad played in his 600th career NHL game. The first overall pick in the 2014 draft logged 23:05 of ice time and registered three shots and a block, but finished with a -3 rating.
- Speaking of milestones, 31-year-old Nick Leddy’s goal was his 375th career point and came in his 900th NHL game.
- The Panthers went 0-for-2 with the man-advantage. The Blues penalty kill is 13-for-13 in the past four games against Florida.
- Carter Verhaeghe led the Cats with four shots on goal. Verhaeghe is the seventh Panther to reach the 20-assist mark this season.
- Jordan Binnington delivered a quality start for St. Louis. He stopped 34 shots to collect his 20th win of the 2022-23 campaign.