Wednesday night, the St. Louis Blues travelled to Orlando to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning for the second time in as many days. Back to back games are always tough — teams must overcome jet lag and fatigue to succeed. The Blues had no problem overcoming both, triumphing over Tampa Bay 4-3 with a late third period goal.
After Matthias Ohlund was tossed from the game for an illegal hit, Nik Nikitin started off the scoring for St. Louis on the ensuing power play. Marc-Andre Bergeron responded at the beginning of the second period, tying the game. Ian Cole put the Blues up by one heading into the third period. The third turned into a goal scoring affair—the teams alternated goals with the upper hand going to St. Louis. Late in the third, Adam Cracknell netted his first goal of the preseason to give the Blues the edge.
The Blues’ MVP of the game was, unquestionably, Chris Stewart. Stewart ended the game with three points—a goal and two assists—to aid in the Blues’ victory. Stewart was on the ice during power plays, even strength, and penalty kills, proving how valuable he is to the organization. Heading into this season, the Blues’ front office has high expectations for Stewart. If he plays the way he is capable of playing—the way he played after being acquired by the Blues—the Blues’ top 6 will be highly effective this season.
Ben Bishop got the nod in goal for the Blues. Though he gave up more goals than Elliot did to the Lightning, he was facing a much stronger Tampa team. The goalie battle will rage throughout the preseason as both Bishop and Elliot fight for the backup job behind Jaroslav Halak. Given a few more performances, a clear winner should emerge to start the season with the team October 8.
The Blues return home to Scottrade Center Thursday night to battle Minnesota. The Blues then go on a three game road trip, returning home Thursday, Sept. 29, to battle Erik Johnson and the Colorado Avalanche.