ST. LOUIS (AP) Vladimir Tarasenko is known for his goal-scoring ability. Now he’s starting to show other parts of his game.
Tarasenko had a goal and two assists and Alex Pietrangelo scored the go-ahead goal as the St. Louis Blues beat the New Jersey Devils 5-2 on Thursday night.
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said Tarasenko is showing an all-around game.
“The part that was good for me was in the third period, he competed defensively,” Hitchcock said. “That’s a big step. He was willing to work for the next goal if it came, and I think that’s just maturity in a player. I think you’re starting to see the maturity in a player, which is a really good sign for this franchise.”
Adam Henrique and Miles Wood scored for the Devils, while Cory Schneider made 26 saves. New Jersey’s losing streak is at a season-high four games and the Devils dropped their seventh straight game against St. Louis.
Henrique gave the Devils a 1-0 lead with a short-handed goal at 7:39 of the first period. Tarasenko whiffed on a shot from the point for the Blues, sending Henrique and Travis Zajac in on a 2-on-1.
Wood scored 4 minutes later to give the Devils a 2-0 lead. Wood put it in an open net after Henrique’s initial shot went wide and caromed off the boards in front of the net.
Tarasenko got the Blues on the board when he scored his second goal in three games on the power play with 2:54 left in the first period. Brad Hunt got an assist and has a point in all four games with the Blues since being called up from the AHL on Dec. 8.
“I thought the one that got us going was the first goal,” Hitchcock said. “He’s (Tarasenko) not feeling great, he’s on for both goals, and then to get one back on the power play kind of just brought us back. To me, we were off and running after that goal.”
Schneider said Tarasenko has one of the best shots in the league.
“He can hold his stick up high, he can look you off or just shoot it at a moment’s notice without any windup or anything like that,” Schneider said. “He’s always been a tough guy to play against and to read and he’s obviously one of the premier players in the league.”
Lehtera deflected a shot by Robby Fabbri for the Blues at 2:05 of the second period to tie it 2-2. It was Lehtera’s fourth goal of the season and first since Nov. 22 at Boston.
Tarasenko found Pietrangelo through the back door for an even strength goal to give the Blues a 3-2 lead at 7:45 of the second period.
“Not a set play, but 4-on-4 is more of a creative game,” Tarasenko said. “We have really good players like Alex and he can read the game well so if he gets open its easier to get the puck to him.”
The three-point night gave Tarasenko 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in his last five games.
“When you shoot the way he does, goalies and d-men really have to respect it,” Pietrangelo said. “It opens up a lot of seams.”
Yakupov made it 4-2 in the third period with his this third goal of the season and first since Oct. 20.
Tarasenko has 22 assists through 31 games and is on pace for a career-high 58.
St. Louis tightened defensively, holding the Devils without a shot for the first 11:23 of the second period.