New line comes up big for Blues

Derek Roy (left), part of the Blues' newly-created line, added an assist and was awarded the No. 3 star Saturday night.

Scott Rovak

ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Blues might have found something special Saturday night against the visiting Nashville Predators.

"We weren’t happy with yesterday’s game so we wanted to make a difference tonight," Schwartz said.

That they did.

Tarasenko scored a goal, assisted on another and then tallied the decisive goal in the shootout and was selected as the game’s No. 1 star.

"I feel like he gets better every game," Roy said. "He’s eager to learn and he wants to play well and he wants to win. Those are good qualities in a player. He’s going out and he pretty much scored that goal on his own. We have to keep working as a line and good things will happen."

Schwartz scored a power-play goal in the first period and was named the game’s No. 2 star. Roy added an assist and was plus-2 and was awarded the No. 3 star for the night.

So that line, which was formed because center Vladimir Sobotka was put on the injured reserved list with a leg injury, accounted for two goals and two assists and all three stars.

"The whole line was great," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "They were really good early off the rush. They made plays. They really played with a lot of speed and tempo in their game. We needed it. Since Derek was not in the lineup I think he’s really made a great account of himself. He’s been a real good player for us and he’s been one of our best players on the power play. He’s been very competitive and I think he’s really answered the bell and had a great attitude and I think he’s really gonna take on the responsibility of keeping that line going with Sobe not here."

They play with great tempo and they’re dangerous. They are dangerous because everybody knows that once they cross center ice it’s going towards the net.

-- Ken Hitchcock

Hitchcock said that line looked fast because they play in straight lines.

"They play with great tempo and they’re dangerous," he said. "They are dangerous because everybody knows that once they cross center ice it’s going towards the net. It’s a really good thing for us. I really liked the way they played today. I liked the way they went to the net. I liked the way they hung on to the puck. I really liked their composure."

The Blues (37-12-5, 79 points) have juggled plenty of line combinations throughout their first 54 games, but this one was new.

Roy recalled playing with Schwartz in training camp, but he said those two hadn’t been paired since the start of the regular season.  

"I never played with Vlady and Schwartzy," he said. "They are both good players and they are both solid in all areas of the game. I think we just have to clean up a few more things. I think we gave up a couple chances on the rush. We have to clear those things up and we’ll be better next game."

There’s no telling how long the trio will be together.

It’s safe to assume Hitchcock will have them out there Tuesday when Ottawa visits Scottrade, but things could change after that. The Blues will then have two more home games before the Olympic break and won’t have another game together until Feb. 26 at Vancouver.

Hitchcock has tried several line combinations recently to try to balance out his four lines. Schwartz had been paired with David Backes and Alexander Steen on the first line, but now Chris Stewart has been moved to that spot.

This Schwartz-Roy-Tarasenko line may have some staying power.

At least for this night, that line was a difference-maker. They turned around what could have been a rough day — losing Sobotka to injury and then losing an early 2-0 lead — into two much-needed points.

After Roman Josi scored with 12:27 remaining to give Nashville a 3-2 lead and quiet the sellout crowd of 19,358, the Schwartz-Roy-Tarasenko line answered with a goal from Tarasenko just 16 seconds later to tie the score.

"We wanted to come out with a good shift after that," Roy said. "I think all three of us were eager. We talked about it. We needed a good shift to bounce back after goal for Ells (Brian Elliott) and for our team and for our fans. We wanted to go out and really put forward a good shift because the third period wasn’t great for us. It’s good that we stepped up and we just have to keep doing that."

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