Faulk, Blues jump on Golden Knights in 1st period, win 5-2
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Justin Faulk scored his 100th career goal to cap a quick three-goal outburst by St. Louis in the first period, and the Blues beat the Vegas Golden Knights 5-2 on Monday night.
“It’s a number everyone seems to like, right? … Every 100 seems to be a milestone within our sport,” Faulk said. “I’m not going to complain about it by any means. I’ll take it, and I hope I can continue to get a few more. I’ll probably keep a little memento from it.”
Ryan O’Reilly, Tyler Bozak, Brandon Saad and Niko Mikkola also scored for the Blues, who entered with two wins in their previous 10 games. Jordan Binnington, who had lost six of his last seven starts, was sharp and made 32 saves.
Chandler Stephenson and Reilly Smith scored for the Golden Knights, who had won five of six.
St. Louis trailed 2-0 before it exploded midway through the first period.
“If you’re going to win on the road in this league, you can’t beat yourself,” Vegas coach Peter DeBoer said. “I thought that the case in the first period. We made some mistakes and had some penalties and that’s a recipe for disaster when you’re on the road.”
O’Reilly scored from a tough angle when his shot hit goalie Robin Lehner’s leg and bounced in at 10:15. It was his first goal in nine games since returning from the COVID-19 list.
Bozak followed with his first goal of the season about a minute and a half later when he jammed in a deflection from the left faceoff circle. Faulk had fed the puck into the slot for Klim Kostin, who redirected it on goal. Lehner made the save but Bozak put home the rebound.
“I just kind of got lost on the backside there and got a fortunate bounce for the puck to come to me, which is nice to get every once in a while,” Bozak said. “It obviously felt good to finally get one.”
Then, 33 seconds later, Faulk beat Lehner on a breakaway with a wrist shot up high, his first goal since the Blues’ second game this season.
“He’s fast. He’s as fast as anybody on the team straight ahead,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “I don’t know if there’s anybody faster.”
Faulk said it was just the second breakaway in his career.
“That’s how we play a system. When guys do what they did there, I had to poke it away and get the puck,” Faulk said. “I wasn’t expecting a breakaway by any means. I looked to my left and just saw a Blues’ jersey and realized I had some space. So, I was able to go out there and have some fun, I guess.”
The onslaught left Lehner at a loss to explain what happened.
“I mean, I thought we had a good start but they scored one and then it snowballed on us pretty quickly,” Lehner said. “I’m not sure what happened there. It was a pretty big momentum swing there.”
St. Louis scored three or more goals in a period for the first time since Nov. 4 at San Jose.
Saad scored on the power play early in the second. He has four goals in his past three games and eight this season.
Mikkola, who returned after a stint on the COVID-19 list, capped the scoring midway through the third.
“When I look at our hockey team top to bottom, we need everybody to contribute offensively,” Berube said. “I’ve said that before and I’ll say it again. Everybody has to contribute.”
Stephenson scored for Vegas 36 seconds into the game, putting back a rebound of a shot from the point by Alex Pietrangelo. Stephenson leads the Golden Knights with 17 points, including six goals.
Smith was alone at the blue line when he took a pass from Ben Hutton, skated in and beat Binnington at 6:50, giving Vegas a 2-0 lead.
“My linemates are doing a great job of creating some space and some opportunities,” Smith said. “Along with that, on my goal tonight, Hutton made a great play, just being able to stretch the zone and find me. I’m going to try to keep on getting breakaways and odd-man rushes from the neutral zone and make the most of those.”
Three Vegas players in the COVID-19 protocol remain day to day: C Michael Amadio, C Jonathan Marchessault and LW William Carrier.
Blues C Brayden Schenn (upper body) is day to day. He last played Nov. 4. Blues D Robert Bortuzzo did not play after the club said he was “dinged up” in Saturday’s game at Dallas. … Golden Knights D Shea Theodore (upper body), LW Max Pacioretty (lower body) and D Shea Theodore (head) are listed as day to day.
Golden Knights: At Nashville on Wednesday.
Blues: At Detroit on Wednesday.
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