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NHL scores 2016: Analytics play second fiddle to luck in Blues' victory

St. Louis has got a serious case of puck luck.

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Penguins ran into a hot St. Louis Blues team on Monday and came away with what often happens when you hit a team in stride. Despite controlling the game from the onset with dominant possession numbers, this time the analytics had to take a back seat to pure luck in the Blues' 5-2 victory.

Since starting the new year on a five-game losing streak, St. Louis has gone 4-1-0 in its last five. The run has brought the team within five points of the top spot in the Central, which is currently led by Chicago and Dallas. Granted, the Blues' blip-on-a-radar run is no comparison to the Blackhawks' 11 straight victories that have tied a franchise record.

But it's hard to argue with the Hockey Gods when they're gifting these magic bounces left and right.

Pittsburgh deserves a fair bit of credit for giving the Blues everything they had, especially on the second night of a back-to-back. Hurling 38 shots on Brian Elliott with only two sneaking by is just as frustrating as their real downfall in this game.

What ultimately failed the Penguins was the goaltending of backup netminder Jeff Zatkoff, who allowed four goals on 24 shots. It's unfair to ask Zatkoff to be Marc-Andre Fleury in net every time he gets the nod, but these types of games have become a bit more commonplace for the backup.

Call it chaos, puck luck or just bounces, the Blues got the better of it against the Penguins on Monday.


Edmonton Oilers 4, Florida Panthers 2

St. Louis Blues 5, Pittsburgh Penguins 2

Colorado Avalanche 2, Winnipeg Jets 1

Buffalo Sabres 2, Arizona Coyotes 1

Ottawa Senators 4, San Jose Sharks 3 (SO)

3 things we learned

1. Evgeni Malkin, Vladimir Tarasenko went toe-to-toe with dueling goals

We had a bit of "you show me yours, I'll show you mine" between two of the Penguins' and Blues' biggest stars on Monday. Evgeni Malkin got it started for the Penguins with some the fancy stickwork he's often known to put together, which gave Pittsburgh the 2-1 lead late in the second.

Less than two minutes later, however, Vladimir Tarasenko had something to say about that.

And that, everyone, is how you one-up Evgeni Malkin.

2. Jack Eichel dropped a bomb on the Arizona Coyotes

Absolutely mesmerizing.

3. Goaltenders could not stop making bad decisions on poke checks

Let's just add more evidence to the "goalies should never leave their net" agenda, shall we?

Exhibit A from Monday: Zatkoff and his mistimed dive that allowed Alexander Steen the easy goal for the Blues.

And finally, Exhibit B: Alex Stalock's missed the poke check that gave Max McCormick the chance to slap the puck through the netminder's legs.

That's right. Feel that shame of misjudging your timing and try again next week.

Impact Moment

Matt Hendricks knew he would have to answer the bell for his hit last week on Aaron Ekblad. Coming off of his three-game suspension against the club he committed the foul against, it was most definitely coming. "The Code" certainly made them do it, but Hendricks took the beatdown from Erik Gudbranson surprisingly well in the Oilers' 4-2 victory over the Panthers.

Stat of the Night

Considering how deadly the Central is and how unimpressive the Avalanche have been, this is something.

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