CHICAGO — Perron’s season took an ugly turn when Jake McCabe smashed David Perron’s boards the day after Thanksgiving.
He missed the next 11 games with a concussion and then was sidelined by COVID as well. The Blues’ top scorer from last season hasn’t been quite the same since. It took forever for him to get back to his game. Sure he would show flashes every now and then, but it was slow progress.
Then Sunday came at the United Center, the same place where Chicago defenseman McCabe was hit. Perron scored twice, giving him 11 goals for the season, and helped the Blues secure a 4-0 win over the Blackhawks.
32-14-6 saw the Blues solidify their second-place finish in the Central Division. They extended their points streak to seven games (6-0-1). They finished their season streak with Chicago 3-0-1; Next stop New York.
Jordan Binnington scored for the second time in six games, recording his second shutout of the season and 10th of his career. His other shutout this season? It came against the same Blackhawks, 1-0 on October 30 at the Enterprise Center.
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But by the time that ended on Sunday, many fans had left the United Center and the blues fans in attendance were chanting “Let’s go Blues!”
The Blues’ best chances in the opening period came early but didn’t even result in a shot. First, Torey Krug passed Jordan Kyrou with a stretch pass. The runaway was announced. Kyrou slithered in, slowed, waited, waited. And never shot the puck at Marc-Andre Fleury. Kyrou went behind the goalie and tried to bounce one off Fleury’s back but had no chance. This sequence happened about three minutes later.
A few minutes later, the Blues had a 2-on-1 onslaught, but Kyrou hadn’t pushed his stick for a net front setup from Brayden Schenn. Again not even a shot.
The Blackhawks, who beat New Jersey 8-5 on Friday, were beginning to gain ground. Jordan Binnington, making his second start in three games, robbed Kirby Dach from the nearby slot for his best save of the period.
With a 10.4 second lead in the first, the Blues made the first power play of the game when Brandon Hagel was booed for bringing down Kyrou.
The Blues failed to turn that penalty into the start of the second period, despite having several good chances to continue the power play. And it didn’t take long after the power play to break the goalless tie.
Just 37 seconds after that power play was over, Schenn gave Kyrou a room service feed on the back. This time, Kyrou has his stick for a tap-in and his 21st goal of the season just 2:26 into the second period.
Ivan Barbashev, who set a career-high three assists against Buffalo on Friday, really made the game. He stole an attempted exit pass from Chicago defender Connor Murphy and then sent it back down the boards to Kyrou, who began a little give-and-go with Schenn.
The Blues were a strong second-half side all season, leading the league by a plus-24 goal difference in Sunday’s second game. They added a few more pluses to the ledger before the period was up.
About 4 ½ minutes after Kyrou’s goal, Robert Thomas got to work behind the Chicago net. He fought two Blackhawks for the puck, took it from Seth Jones and sent it to the nearby slot where Pavel Buchnevich was waiting. Buchnevich made quick work of it, sending Fleury into the 2-0 game with a wrist shot. It was Buchnevich’s 19th of the season.
The Blues weren’t done with the second one. Towards the end of the period, Caleb Jones was sent off for pinning Ryan O’Reilly. The Blues picked up where they left off from their earlier power play, whipping the puck around and creating several good chances.
Perron counted and lashed a shot from the left circle past Fleury, who seemed to slide from side to side in an unsuccessful attempt to shut the back door.
It was Perron’s 10th goal of the season, giving the Blues eight players with 10 goals or more that season. Suddenly it was a 3-0 lead for the Blues with 1:52 to play in the second period.
At the beginning of the third period, Perron made it 4-0 with another goal. Chicago won a faceoff in their own zone, but Perron rushed back to get the puck and with a quick swipe put it past Fleury at the 3:04 mark of the third.
In the remaining 16:56, the only suspense that remained was whether Binnington would get the shutout.