St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko has a legitimate shot of being the NHL’s goal leader this season. Coming off a breakout season from a year ago, Tarasenko picked up where he left off. The 24-year old Russian picked up two goals and the Blues took advantage of the man-advantage to open the 2016-17 season with a 5-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks, at United Center.
Tarasenko has been a Hawks’ killer. He entered Wednesday night’s game with ten goals against Chicago (including playoffs) over the last two seasons. He also added an assist. Paul Stastny and Kevin Shattenkirk each contributed a goal and two assists. Alex Steen had two assists.
After the Hawks took an early 1-0 lead on a power-play goal of their own, the Blues took advantage of undisciplined penalties that led to three goals starting in the second period. The Hawks drew four minor penalties in the second and the Blues scored three power-play goals. Shattenkirk tied it 1-1 at 4:52, Tarasenko tied it 2-2 again at 19:28 and Stastny made it 3-2 just 55 seconds into the third period. Both of the latter goals came with the two-man advantage.
“We knew it was a crucial point in the game to really kind of step on their throats, if you will, and keep them down while we had them there. And we did just that,” said Shattenkirk.
Tarasenko added an empty net goal and the Hawks scored on themselves with the goalie pulled again after a bad pass toward their own net was tipped in by defenseman Duncan Keith. Scottie Upshall got credit for the goal.
Jake Allen made 17 saves and he will be in the nets on Thursday night when the Blues host the Minnesota Wild.