David Perron knew on Friday night that he was going to the All-Star Game for the first time, in advance of the league's announcement on Saturday evening, when he got a phone call from general manager Doug Armstrong.
"I was hoping I wasn’t getting traded," Perron joked.
That's the last thing that is going to happen, the way Perron and the Blues are playing. Perron kept the good times rolling with a goal in his fourth straight game as the Blues won for the eighth straight time at home, beating the New York Rangers 5-2 on Saturday night at Enterprise Center.
The eight-game home win streak is the longest in the NHL this season and the Blues have won three in a row as they've bounced back after a three-game losing streak.
Perron led an eclectic cast of goalscorers for the Blues, which included defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, who last scored in the regular season on Valentine's Day, defenseman Vince Dunn, forward Zach Sanford, who last scored the day before Thanksgiing, and Jaden Schwartz.
Perron will be making his first trip to the All-Star Game after being selected in the NHL's Last Men In voting, giving the Blues four players and one coach at the game coming up here. That was announced about an hour before the game began and then 1:26 into the period got his 20th goal of the season and his eighth on the power play, one-timing a pass from Brayden Schenn for the goal. Perron has 46 points on the season to match his total for last season. The most recent Blue to get to 20 goals this fast was Vladimir Tarasenko in the 2016-17 season, when he got his 20th on Jan. 7.
"It’s really exciting," Perron said of his selection. "Thanks to all the people obviously in St. Louis that helped me get here, and also probably other cities, but I’m sure most of the votes came from here in town, and the team helped me out too. They reached I’m sure to different platforms. The Cards helped me out. So it’s really cool."
The Blues launched a large social media campaign to get out the vote, and it helped that Blues fans were a bit up in arms about Perron not being one of the initial selections.
"It’s nice," Perron said. "It almost seemed like the Instagram was all about David Perron and not the Blues anymore, so I’m glad it’s kind of over that way. But it’s definitely really exciting. I was disappointed definitely when it came out, I wasn’t there, but right now, with the wait and obviously knowing which guys are going, Chief is going, our trainers will be here, I wouldn’t want it any other way at the end. It’s going to be really fun to bring my family and the kids, and we’re really going to enjoy that part."
"He deserves it," Sanford said. "He’s been great all year and I think it even started last year, he’s been huge for us and I think everybody knows that it’s been awesome to see the support from the fans and especially the guys in the room, everyone voting for him and getting him there. I don’t think any of us could be happier for him."
The Rangers cut the lead to 3-2 on a goal by Brett Howden, left alone in the crease, with 11:11 to go in the second. But that was as close as the Rangers would get and the Blues took control of the game. In the third period, it seemed the Blues were always able to gain control of the puck.
"I thought we did a good job," Berube said. "I thought we were pretty dialed in from the getgo. It was a pretty solid game all around. That’s a talented team over there and they can score goals and we did a great job killing that four-minute power play of theirs. That changed the game for me."
The Blues took the lead back to two goals on a bit of back-and-forth passing between Ivan Barbashev and Sanford, with Sanford finishing it off for his fourth goal of the season and first since the day before Thanksgiving.
"I had a tough stretch there," Sanford said, "and the last couple games I’ve been trying to build my game and get back to what makes me successful and I thought tonight I did a pretty good job of those things. O’Ry and Perron are a huge help and they’ve been playing great. It was good for me to help them out tonight a little bit."
With 5:10 to go in the period, Schwartz got his 15th goal as he extended his stick to tip in a pass from Schenn, who had nowhere else to put it as he slipped it through traffic on a break.
Bortuzzo – yes, Robert Bortuzzo – scored on a breakaway in the first period and Dunn scored later to give the Blues a 2-1 lead after one period.
Bortuzzo had just a finished serving a four-minute high sticking penalty that had produced far better scoring chances for the Blues then for the Rangers. Alex Pietrangelo stole the puck just as the penalty ended and Ivan Barbashev had it in the neutral zone as the penalty ended, as Bortuzzo got behind the Rangers, got the puck at the blueline and was off to the races, sliding the puck between the legs of Rangers’ goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
It was the 15th career goal for Bortuzzo, whose last regular-season goal was Feb. 14 at Arizona, 50 games ago. He also had a goal in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals vs. San Jose last season. Bortuzzo was the last skater from the Blues opening day lineup to get a goal, following Alexander Steen by one period.
Bortuzzo doesn't mess around. Among the goalies he has scored on in his career: Martin Brodeur, Marc-Andre Fleury, Tuukka Rask, Jonathan Quick and John Gibson. Three of them have won the Vezina Trophy.
"It's sad that I can remember every goalie," Bortuzzo said, "but yeah, a lot of those guys are going to end up in the Hall of Fame. Call it coincidence, call it whatever you want, but happy to chip in."
The PK was the key. The Rangers had a chance to go up 2-0 but the Blues had the better of the chances. After Bortuzzo's goal, the tide of the game had changed totally in the Blues' favor.
Dunn put the Blues ahead with his seventh goal of the season as Sanford nicely held the puck in traffic and fed Dunn, who fired it in.
The Blues had fallen behind 1:34 into the game when Filip Chytil took the puck in his own and skated the length of the ice, beating Jordan Binnington from the top of the left circle.
The game ended with Dunn and New York's Jacob Trouba slugging it out. Trouba repeatedly whacked at Dunn as he skated with the puck in a Blues power play that covered the final 37 seconds of the game. Trouba was going to get a slashing penalty but the clock ran out before play stopped. With the final horn, Dunn and Trouba then went at it, with Dunn landing a solid punch. Trouba got a five-minute slashing major and a game misconduct. Dunn got two for roughing.
The sides were starting at each other long after the game had ended and the Blues waited on the ice for the Rangers to leave.
"It got a little chippy," Sanford said. "They had their fourth line guys running around out there, taking some liberties. You see the hacks Trouba was giving Dunner at the end, I don’t know what that was all about. Obviously they were a frustrated team and it was awesome to see Dunner hit him with that left there. It’s pretty cool to see the whole team staring them down, seeing them off the ice at the end there."