ST. LOUIS — The reunion went well for Ryan O’Reilly.
“It’s a big game for us in general, coming off the break and trying to get back into the hunt here,” O’Reilly told NHL.com. “It’s a big game, especially against a team like that, being traded from. It always means a bit more. It feels really good to win that one.”
The Blues, who host the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday, have a lot of work to do to get back into the playoff hunt, but at least it seems they are finally finding some consistency. The win over the Sabres was the team’s fifth in its last seven games.
Still, the Blues (15-16-4, 34 points) are seven points out of a playoff spot.
But the Blues have a chance to take advantage of home ice. Thursday’s win was the first of a five-game homestand.
Blues goalie Jake Allen continued his strong play with 30 saves against the Sabres. Forward Robert Thomas had a goal and an assist, while forward Pat Maroon and defenseman Jay Bouwmeester also scored.
The Blues know that this stretch may define whether they can make run at the playoffs or not.
“I think we’re at the point where we’ve probably played four or five good games out of the past six or seven,” Allen told NHL.com. “So, we’ve built a little bit of something, but we still have a long way to go. We’re still a below .500 team right now. We’re trending in the right direction, I think we can’t take our foot off the gas at all. There’s really no time left now. If we can keep this going, we should be able to get back in shooting distance anyway.”
The Blues will try to keep it going against the Penguins Saturday night. It is the first meeting between the two clubs this season after they split two games last season.
The Penguins are coming off a 5-2 win over Detroit on Thursday. Pittsburgh has won four straight games.
On Thursday, the Penguins also signed left winger Jake Guentzel to a five-year, $30 million contract extension.
“It’s exciting. It’s where I want to be,” Guentzel told NHL.com. “It was my first time through it, but when it came about, I was pretty excited and glad to get it done and move forward. Whenever you can get it done and just focus on playing now, it’s always nice.”
Guentzel, playing on a line with center Sidney Crosby, has 33 points (15 goals, 18 assists) in 36 games this season and his 23 postseason goals are tied for seventh-most in franchise history.
“He certainly is deserving,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan told NHL.com. “He’s played extremely well for this organization in his time here. He’s been part of one of the Stanley Cups that we’ve won. He’s had great playoff runs each year. And he’s been a consistent player for us. We’re certainly thrilled for him, but we’re thrilled for the Penguins as well. We just think it’s a great deal for both sides.”