Tarasenko moved into the NHL lead with his first-period goal and and then added two assists to lead the Blues to a 3-2 win over the visiting Calgary Flames on Saturday at Scottrade Center.
“It’s a pretty good feeling,” Tarasenko said. “I think it’s pushing you to move forward. I think this shows you you can play with these guys and you can score these goals. It’s a team game. My teammates make it for me. I just need to score more because I have really a lot of goal chances.”
Colton Parayko and Jori Lehtera also scored, Alexander Steen added two assists and Brian Elliott made a season-high 36 saves for the Blues (20-10-4, 44 points), who have won three straight games and six consecutive against the Flames (15-15-2, 32 points).
Calgary, which had a seven-game win streak snapped, got goals from Mark Giordano and Sean Monahan and 19 saves from goalie Karri Ramo.
“They play with skill, they play on the move and if you get sucked into the game, then you’re on the move chasing them around the rink, which is what happened for about 30 minutes — we chased them around the rink,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “They're awful skilled, they're awful quick.”
Tarasenko extended his goal scoring streak to five games, a new career high, and the Russian forward has now scored in seven of the Blues’ last eight games.
He opened the scoring with his 21st of the season, assisted by Carl Gunnarsson and Steen, just 1:23 into the first period. A shot from Gunnarsson deflected off the stick of Calgary defenseman T.J. Brodie and right to Tarasenko, who was waiting on the doorstep.
“Looking at Tarasenko, this guy right now I think he's the most complete hockey player in this league,” Flames coach Bob Hartley said. “I like the way that he scores, that he goes on offense, the way that he's committed to team defense, the way that he takes the body on forecheck, and it looks like he's pretty impressive.”
The Blues scored again just 2:24 later when Parayko took a pass from Tarasenko, slid the puck around Brodie in the slot and beat Ramo with a backhand flip.
“I went to the net, tried to find some open space, and Vlad, the great player he is, he found me,” Parayko said. “I just had to beat one guy and I just kind of poked the puck and I was lucky enough to get it by. I looked back and saw the mesh, so I just fired one.”
The goal was the sixth of the season for Parayko — tying him with Shayne Gotstisbehere of the Philadephia Flyers for the NHL lead among rookie defensemen — and his first in 18 games.
“It looked like a skilled forward, maybe (Alex) Ovechkin-type move, coming across, going into the corner, backhand shelf,” Elliott said.
It looked like the Blues scored a third time in the first period, but a Steen goal with 3:29 remaining was waved off because of a high stick. The play was reviewed but ruled to be inconclusive.
“We thought it was a goal, which we still think is a goal,” Hitchcock said. “They had it as no goal so it's going to take everybody plus the video replays to change their minds. So once the original call comes on the ice, it's got to take everybody to turn it.”
The Blues went ahead 3-0 when Lehtera scored with 5:07 remaining in the second period, his fourth of the season, after taking a cross-ice pass from Steen.
The Flames outshot the Blues 23-13 in the first two periods and had three power plays in the second period but weren’t able to score.
Calgary did score 4:00 into the third period on a tip-in goal by Monahan that was initially waved off but changed after a discussion between the officials and found inconclusive on review. Giordano and Josh Jooris earned the assists.
Giordano scored his seventh of the season, making it 3-2, with 3:53 remaining on a shot that deflected off defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk's stick and beat Elliott high to the blocker side.
The Flames pulled Ramo late in the third period but couldn’t score again as the Blues held them off for their third straight win, a stretch that followed a month of not winning two games in a row.
“Feels good as a group, in the locker room, just knowing that we can string together wins,” Parayko said. “Obviously there’s going to be ups and downs throughout the season, so you can’t really get upset when we do lose a few in a row or if we do lose a few in a week because that's just how it is. It’s not just going to be an 82-0 season. I think it's just the way you approach every game. Right now obviously we have three in a row and that's huge for us.”