Blues offense runs wild in big win over Panthers

News-DemocratOctober 5, 2013 

— Four-goal eruptions in one period by the St. Louis Blues aren't exactly a common occurrence at Scottrade Center -- or any other NHL arena for that matter.

But the Blues ran the Florida Panthers right out of the building Saturday with a torrid four-goal blitz in the second period on their way to a 7-0 victory.

Of the Blues' 11 goals this season, 10 are by different scorers. Alexander Steen, who scored on a penalty shot Saturday, is the only one with two.

"We've known all along that we probably don't have that superstar talent," said Blues winger Brenden Morrow, who had a goal and assist. "But it's a grinding team that is solid throughout and anyone can be the hero any given night. Tonight we put seven in and I think it was spread out throughout the lineup.

"That makes it really hard to defend and compete against when you've got all cylinders pumping."

The shutout was Jaroslav Halak's record 17th with the Blues, breaking the previous franchise standard of 16 set by Hall of Fame goalie Glenn Hall.

"I know he was a great goaltender and in the Hall of Fame," said Halak, who has 26 shutouts in his career. "I'm glad I passed him with shutouts but I wouldn't be able to do it without my teammates. They were great again tonight, especially on the PK (penalty kill)."

The Blues killed off seven Florida power plays and through two games are a perfect 11-for-11.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock pointed to an early stretch of hot goaltending by Halak that set the stage for the win.

"He made three good saves on the first shift," Hitchcock said. "They were hammering away there trying to push him into the net. He made five or six quality saves in the first period just to get us to the power play to score.

"It was pretty furious at the start of the game there."

Then the furious attack on the Florida net began.

In a span of less that seven minutes, the Blues got second-period goals by Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz and Derek Roy before Steen added a fourth one on a penalty shot.

The seven goals by the Blues (2-0) is the highest total by the club since a 10-3 victory over Detroit on March 30, 2011.

"It's by committee, it's a different guy every night," Blues winger Chris Stewart said. "There's no one on this team that comes out here after the game and looks at the stat sheet."

When Jacob Markstrom replaced Panthers starting goaltender Tim Thomas in net at the start of the third period, it marked the second straight game the suddenly goal-hungry Blues had chased a starter from the game.

Markstrom fared no better as Blues' fourth-liner Ryan Reaves beat him cleanly with a sizzling wrist shot at 2:44 of the third period to make it 6-0.

The crowd had barely settled into their seats when Patrik Berglund racked up another goal to make it 7-0. Berglund became the 10th different Blue to score a goal.

Just as they did Thursday in the season opener, the Blues broke on top early.

After killing off three quick penalties, the Blues finally found themselves on the power play and took the lead on a goal by Morrow.

The veteran winger scored his first goal with the Blues and 250th of his career by lifting a backhander past Thomas on the rebound of a shot by Derek Roy.

Halak robbed former Blues winger Brad Boyes on a sprawling save early in the period, then Boyes hit the goalpost.

Halak got a little help from the goalpost midway through the third period with Scott Gomez hammering away, but stood his ground and kept the puck out.

After Florida was held without a shot during a power-play -- the Blues' eighth straight successful kill this season -- the Blues began their assault on Thomas.

Some nice work by Schwartz along the boards allowed him to snag the puck and he set up Tarasenko in front. That ended a 16-game goal drought for Tarasenko, who hadn't scored since March 28, 2013.

Vladimir Sobotka threw a seeing-eye pass from behind the net right onto the stick of Schwartz, who buried a shot from the slot for his first goal of the year.

Schwartz had a goal, two assists and a fight to record a "Gordie Howe hat trick." --hockey parlance for a player getting a goal, assist and into a fight on the same night.

Schwartz dropped the gloves with Florida's Kris Versteeg with 3:32 remaining.

"I wasn't really expecting it," said Schwartz, who said his last fight came when he was 17. "There was a tap, then he dropped (the gloves) and just started throwing them. It caught me a little bit off guard but I tried to recover."

Roy became the eighth different Blues scorer on the team's first eight goals this season when he was set up by Stewart from behind the net.

The Stewart-Roy-Morrow line combined for two goals and six points.

That made it 4-0, but there was still enough time left in the period for another Blues goal.

Steen was pulled down from behind by Florida's Erik Gudbranson on a partial breakaway and was awarded a penalty shot.

Steen used a slick backhand move to beat Thomas for his second goal of the season, pushing the lead to 5-0. It was the Blues' third straight successful penalty shot and seventh on their last eight tries dating back to the 2007-08 season.

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, or on Twitter @NormSanders

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