Every lengthy winning streak has a special performance or two that contributes to its extension. Vladimir Tarasenko provided just that on Sunday afternoon.
Tarasenko’s hat trick was highlighted by an overtime winner just 16 seconds into the extra frame, this after helping the Blues open up a 2-0 lead in the second period and then putting St. Louis up 4-3 in the third after they blew a 3-1 lead after two periods.
The win, a 5-4 final result, was St. Louis’ sixth straight win — a season-high — and their second straight against the Nashville Predators, whom they triumphed over 3-2 on Saturday in the first game of their weekend home-and-home series.
At one point, not long ago, the Blues were the floor mat in the Western Conference. That’s remarkable, given they’re now one of the hottest teams in the NHL and sitting pretty in a playoff spot.
The Blues look refreshed these days, a team motivated to turn around a season that once looked lost. The coaching change from Mike Yeo to Craig Berube didn’t begin well, but it’s paid off over the course of the past few weeks and, combined with the log jam of lackluster teams in the Western Conference, the Blues have begun to distance themselves with great goaltending and equally as good team play.
And that’s why the Blues have strung together six wins in a row.
Sunday’s game wasn’t without its drama. The Blues watched as Roman Josi and Viktor Arvidsson, who finished with two goals in the game, wiped out their two-goal advantage in the third. After Tarasenko’s goal, Filip Forsberg put on an individual clinic to tie the game right back 4-4.
Jake Allen got his first start since Jan. 17 and looked solid through two periods. Some gaffes defensively allowed the Predators back into the game, but Allen made 40 saves in the end to grab the win.
The net is firmly Jordan Binnington‘s these days given his impressive run, but the Blues will need Allen to play — and play well — down the stretch.
The Predators, meanwhile, aren’t in trouble despite dropping both weekend games to the Blues. The point they picked up help put them level with the Winnipeg Jets on 71 points for top spot in the Central Divison, but they’ve missed an opportunity to regain top spot in the Central Division.
The Jets (who are in Buffalo Sunday) have lost two straight and have two games in hand on the Preds. A couple of different results against the Blues would have erased a big chunk of that advantage.
The Blues moved into the first wildcard, leapfrogging the Minnesota Wild with both teams level on 59 points. The Blues get some breathing room, with a two-point advantage over the Vancouver Canucks, who are on 57 points but have played two more games.