It might be too much to call Vladimir Tarasenko the savior of St. Louis’ season, but should the Blues advance to the second round of the post-season because of dominating performances on home ice to kick off the playoffs, Tarasenko’s performance Thursday night will look like one of the most important of the season.
The Blues had the opportunity Thursday to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks and clinch home-ice advantage in the first round of the post-season, and with a victory St. Louis could also keep pace with the Dallas Stars in the battle for the top seed in the Central Division and Western Conference. With two minutes left, the Blues were in tough, but with 1:16 remaining in the third period, Tarasenko found a loose puck off of a bad rebound by Blackhawks goaltender Scott Darling and rifled it home to knot the game.
But Taransenko wasn’t done there. During 3-on-3 overtime, he found himself as the triggerman following an incredible passing play. Watch as the Blues channel their inner-Globetrotters:
Tarasenko’s second tally of the game gives him 39 on the season, which means he’s that much closer to breaking the 40-goal mark for the first time in his career. In his rookie campaign, Tarasenko netted 21 goals and followed that up with 37 in his sophomore season. Scoring 40 this year would be a nice feather in his cap. And with the way Tarasenko’s scoring has gone up year after year, there’s a good chance he’s a 50-goal scorer in the next couple of seasons.
The grander implications of Tarasenko’s goal — home-ice in the opening round — make it more impressive, though. Given the way the Blues roster has been decimated by injury all season, that St. Louis has been able to not only hang with the top teams in the Central but earn themselves home-ice to start the playoffs is remarkable. Thankfully Tarasenko is one of the players who has been around almost all season, though, because without his 39 goals and 73 points, it’s hard to say where St. Louis would be.