The Blues wouldn't have beaten the Lightning without Oskar Sundqvist on Wednesday night, though that's ultimately what they had to do.
Sundqvist scored two goals in the second period to put the Blues ahead 2-1, then suffered a lower-body injury and left the game. With Sundqvist not on the ice in the third period, the Blues managed to score twice, first by Zach Sanford and then another just seconds after a five-on-three advantage had ended by Brayden Schenn, as the Blues snapped a two-game losing streak with a 4-3 win on Wednesday night in Tampa, Fla.
"He's been an effective player, even when he's not putting up points," goalie Jordan Binnington said. "It's tough to lose him. Hopefully it's not too serious. We stepped up to the plate, got a couple big goals and held the fort down."
Binnington faced 35 shots and had to make some big saves under heavy pressure from Tampa Bay throughout the game. It was his 50th NHL start and he has 36 wins in that time.
"We've seen him do it plenty of times now," Sanford said. "I don't want to say it's expected, but it kind of is. He's a great goaltender, competitor. He shows up in those moments and especially when we need him most, there he was again tonight."
In their past eight road games, the Blues have gotten 14 of 16 points.
About a minute after Anthony Cirelli tied the game at 2-2 in second, putting in a rebound, Sundqvist tried to avoid a check by Luke Schenn, Brayden Schenn's brother, and leaped into the glass in the corner, and got hurt. He kept the weight off his right leg as much as he could skating to the bench and went straight to the tunnel, not returning in the period. Between periods, the team said he would not return to the game.
Coach Craig Berube said there would be an update on Sundqvist on Thursday. Sundqvist's injury adds to a list of Blues forwards who are hurt. Vladimir Tarasenko is likely out for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury. Alexander Steen is out another 10 days or so with a high ankle sprain. Sammy Blais is out with a wrist injury for another nine weeks.
Since Tarasenko got hurt, the Blues are 10-3-3, which is even more impressive considering how hard it's been for them to score goals.
"It's been pretty fun and cool to be part of," Sanford said. "We've got huge players like Steener, Vladi (out), Sunny leaves this game after putting two in. He's been a big part of this team. It goes back to the leaders. Everyone on this team from top to bottom can step up, maybe take over little bit more of a role, change their role a little bit to help be successful."
Sundqvist's shorthanded goal got the Blues even in the second, and then he scored again to give them the lead. Ivan Barbashev, who started the game on Sundqvist's line, had his first career three-assist game, assisting on both of Sundqvist's goals and Sanford's.
"I just passed the puck and I'm glad Sunny put two in and Sanny did too," Barbashev said. "I didn't play good for a little while but it was a good game so I'm happy about it."
The Blues added to their lead five seconds after a five-on-three power play had ended, with Schenn finding a hole between Andrei Vasilevskiy and the post. It's the 13th goal of the season for Schenn. He had 17 goals last season.
Tampa Bay cut the lead to one on a power-play by Brayden Point with 5:37 to go. Prior to that, the Blues had killed three Tampa Bay power plays. Tampa Bay pulled Vasilevskiy with 1:40 to go and the Blues hung on.
It's the second time in four games Sundqvist has had two goals in a game. He has eight on the season but the injury denied him a chance at his first career hat trick.
The two goals put the Blues up 2-1 before a goal by Cirelli with 8:21 in the second period tied the game.
The Blues had fallen behind 1-0, the sixth time in the past seven games the opponent had scored first, on a goal by Nikita Kucherov. A minute 38 seconds after that goal, Sundqvist knocked the puck out of the Blues end, kept it away from the Tampa players, and came in alone on Vasilevskiy and beat him. It was the third shorthanded goal in Sundqvist's career.
He put the Blues up 2-1 just over three minutes later, as Barbashev kept the puck in the Tampa end and Sundqvist got the puck, skating in and scoring from the right circle.
The Blues had to kill off a penalty not long after, and they did.
The Blues were outshot 7-1 early in the first but by the end of the period had a 15-11 edge. Tampa Bay had little in the way of chances in the final 12 minutes of the first period.
The Lightning seem to bring out the best in the Blues. The Blues beat them 3-1 on Nov. 19 at Enterprise Center, one of only two wins for the Blues in their past six games. In that game, the Blues held Tampa Bay to just 18 shots on goal.
The Blues have done a much better job of getting around the net in this one, something that has been lacking from their game recently.