The Blues came out in a fighting mood Friday night.
Mired in a three-game losing streak when they scored one goal and still reeling from seeing their coach get fired earlier this week, the Blues responded right from the opening faceoff against the Nashville Predators at Enterprise Center.
Pat Maroon, just activated from injured reserve, got into a fight with Austin Watson on the opening faceoff and for good measure, Brayden Schenn got into another fight 75 seconds into the game.
“You should have heard our bench,” Schenn said about Maroon’s opening bout.
Energized by the bouts, the Blues scored three times in the opening period en route to a 6-2 win over the best team in the NHL so far this season.
One of the goals came from Schenn, who later added an assist to complete the so-called “Gordie Howe hat trick.”
After losing to the Predators 4-1 in Nashville on Wednesday night, the Blues scored five goals on their first 15 shots on goal, chasing backup goalie Juuse Saros from the game in the middle of the second period.
Ivan Barbashev and Ryan O’Reilly scored the other first period goals to give the Blues a 3-1 lead before Zach Sanford and Robby Fabbri’s goals in the second period increased the lead to 5-1. Alex Pietrangelo scored the final goal in the third period, off Schenn’s assist.
“Those are two massive plays that sparked us,” O’Reilly said of the early fights. “If we’re not stepping up and doing our part it’s almost insulting to those guys who are making that sacrifice. You saw the way we responded. We came out with jump, physical. It’s a huge statement by those guys.”
Maroon said he had been thinking about getting into the opening fight before the game.
“If I had the opportunity I was going to take advantage of it,” Maroon said. “Hopefully it got the guys going. It was kind of a way to get me into the game and get engaged in the game.
“I think guys are just trying to find a way to get guys going in here. It’s a little spark sometimes.”
In addition to the fights, the Blues registered 29 hits in the game, 16 of them coming in the first period.
The game was a marked contrast to the game in Nashville on Wednesday night.
“I think it is a huge statement for us,” O’Reilly said. “It’s a big lesson for us. It shows when we show up this way we can beat a really good hockey team. We can easily be up there at the top of the league.”
“We should be this team; this is what we should do every single night,” he said. “There’s no reason why we couldn’t do that every night, controlling the puck, defensively closing hard, physical, going to the net and be a frustrating team to play against.
“This is the team we are supposed to be every night and hopefully we can carry that into tomorrow.”
The Blues will take on another physical division opponent Saturday night, hosting the Winnipeg Jets.
“It’s kind of disappointing when you fire your coach and things aren’t going the right way,” Maroon said. “You don’t want to fire another coach. You’ve got to find ways to get your game ramped up and get the fans in; being hard in your own building and making teams not want to come in here.
“We haven’t given them (the fans) that much, not playing St. Louis Blues hockey. Tonight was it. We’ve got to keep building.”