Late hit on Kyrou comes after his first NHL hat trick, in 5-1 win over Vancouver

VANCOUVER, BC _ After scoring two goals on 11 occasions in his still-young NHL career, Jordan Kyrou finally got his first hat trick in Monday’s 5-1 Blues victory over the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena.

The Blues had a commemorative puck ready for a social media moment with Kyrou, but the picture never got taken. At least not in the visitors’ locker room, because Kyrou was getting treatment by the Blues’ medical staff after the game. As a result, he was not available to the media.

He took a hit into the glass by Vancouver defenseman Kyle Burroughs with 1:31 left in the game, and was holding the side of his head afterwards on the bench.

Nathan Walker attempted to fight Burroughs in the closing seconds of the game, but the officiating crew headed by referees Frederick L’Ecuyer and Ghislain Hebert separated the two before any punches could be thrown. And that’s how the game ended.

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“One of our guys got hit, which I don’t think we like too much,” Walker said, referring to Kyrou. “I think regardless of the time of the game, I’m gonna try to do my part and all that. At the end of the day, that’s just part of the game. I just didn’t like it.”

In a hectic swirl of postgame activity in the locker room area at Rogers, almost all of the night’s media sessions had concluded before it was known that Kyrou was undergoing treatment. There was some uncertainty about Kyrou’s availability for Tuesday’s game in Seattle.

As it was, the Blues (16-15-1) moved above .500 for the first time since the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, when they rallied from deficits of 3-0 and 4-1 to defeat Florida 5-4 in overtime.

In this up-and-down season, they have now won four straight and have at least one point in five consecutive games.

“I think everybody was doing their job,” coach Craig Berube said. “We just played our game for the most part. We stuck with it and eventually we got a couple goals and got some momentum off of it.

“But (Noel) Acciari’s line was excellent in the game and ‘Walks’ had a big goal, so that line was really good. I thought for the most part we did the right things with the puck. We did have some turnovers that were unnecessary – that we didn’t need to do. But for the most part we did good things with the puck.”

It was a scoreless game until Kyrou’s first goal midway through the second period. Two minutes later it was a 1-1 when Ilya Mikheyev took advantage of a St. Louis turnover for his di lui 10th goal of the season.

Just 38 seconds later, Walker picked a good time for his first goal of the season – it was his 19th game – taking a pass from Nick Leddy just outside the blueline and skating in to beat Spencer Martin, who was playing against the Blues for the first time in his career. As it turned out, it was the game-winning goal.

“He’s a hard-working guy,” Berube said. “He gives you everything he’s got every night, so it was nice for him to get one. Maybe he can get on a roll like he did last year when he ended up with eight goals – a bunch of them were game-winners. He’s an effortless guy and competitive.”

Walker had eight goals in just 30 games last season, and two of them were game-winners. But he had grown a little frustrated with his lack of scoring success this year, and he has been in-and-out of the lineup since late October, playing only 10 games since Oct. 29 prior to Monday.

“It definitely feels good, whenever you can chip in offensively,” Walker said. It feels nice. I’m just glad we got a win and can keep this thing rolling. I had some open ice on the weakside and ‘Ledds’ made a great heads-up play. I just decided to grip it and rip it a little bit.”

Robert Thomas’ power play goal with just 1:10 left in the second period made it a 3-1 Blues lead and gave him eight goals for the season and four in his last seven contests.

Then Kyrou finished the deal by scoring twice in the third – first on a power-play goal just 67 seconds into the period, and then on an even-strength goal at the 9:19 mark. All three goals came from one of Kyrou’s favorite spots on the ice – in or around the faceoff circles. His wrist shot is lethal.

Elite goal scorers frequently are streaky, and for Kyrou this was his sixth goal in three games – all played in Western Canada. No Blues player has done that before on a three-game swing through Alberta and British Columbia. Brett Hull in 1991 and Brad Boyes in 2008 had both scored five.

“He’s been playing really good hockey for some time,” Berube said of Kyrou. “The mean, the goals are gonna come eventually. He’s too good of a player. Now he’s capitalizing on it, but his work ethic has been there for the whole year in my opinion.”

Kyrou’s third goal of the night gave him 16 for the season; he had 13 goals at the same point last season, when he made the NHL All-Star Game.

Blues fans travel basically everywhere in the NHL, and five hats were tossed on the ice after Kyrou registered the hat trick. A sixth didn’t make it over the glass. One of the hats that made it to the ice belonged to DJ Malone of Fenton. He went down to – for a lack of a better term – a hat retrieval area in Rogers, but it wasn’t there.

So Kyrou’s night was special, at least before the Burroughs hit, and so were Blues special teams. They scored on two of three power plays, only the second game all season they’ve had as many as two power play goals. And their penalty kill unit denied all four power plays for Vancouver (13-15-3).

“The PK was really good,” Berube said. “Binner (Jordan Binnington) was good on it. Power play scored a couple. So that’s the difference in the game.”

The rarely-penalized Colton Parayko received two minors in the game’s opening 5:08, the first just 20 seconds in, but the PK set the tone by keeping the puck out of the net on both kills.

“Two big kills and then we kind of got going there and played pretty well,” Berube said. “And it is what it is after that.”


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