NHL

Tarasenko debuts with two goals as Blues manhandle Red Wings

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Associated Press
1/20/2013 12:20:19 AM
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ST. LOUIS -- Rookie Vladimir Tarasenko had a memorable debut. The St. Louis Blues made it a point not to get too carried away.

Tarasenko scored twice in his first NHL game and Chris Stewart also had a pair of goals, helping the Blues manhandle the Detroit Red Wings 6-0 in their season opener Saturday night.

"You look at Tarasenko and he did some special things," Stewart said. "You can tell he's going to be a special player in this league for a long time."

Added teammate T.J. Oshie: "He's the complete package."

Coach Ken Hitchcock, general manager Doug Armstrong and goalies Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott posed at centre ice with post-season trophies earned from last season's Central Division championship team shortly before the opening faceoff. A standing room crowd of 20,035 roared throughout the opener.

And why not, with the Blues outshooting a division rival they've been chasing most of the last two decades 36-14. St. Louis was 4 for 5 on the power play.

"I think we just got the early jump," said Oshie, who had a goal on a short-handed breakaway and two assists. "That's definitely not going to be the case the next time we play them."

At least the Red Wings hope that's the case. They were 4-2 against the Blues last season but are in a bit of a rebuilding mode playing for the first time in 22 seasons without standout defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom and in 15 years without forward Tomas Holmstrom.

"They were better than us from start to finish," coach Mike Babcock said. "They were quicker, more competitive around the puck. We gave them goals. I can think of four goals that were just gifts."

Hitchcock said it's been such a whirlwind since the end of the lockout that it's unwise to judge any team until it has played 10 games. Plus, there aren't many days off.

"We looked good tonight," Hitchcock said. "Who knows what happens?"

There was a moment of silence in tribute to Hall of Fame baseball player Stan Musial, who died earlier Saturday, before the third period.

The 21-year-old Tarasenko, a first-round draft pick in 2010, got the scoring started with some nifty puck handling on a breakaway at 6:36 of the first period. Tarasenko skated in alone on goalie Jimmy Howard after defenceman Kyle Quincey tried to cut the puck off at the boards and missed.

"It was like dreaming," Tarasenko said.

He made it 3-0 in the second period with a power-play goal, becoming the 14th player in franchise history to get a pair of goals in his first game.

"He had a couple of good moves," Howard said. "He's going to be a good player for them and for years to come."

Halak had to stop just 14 shots by the anemic Red Wings for the shutout. Halak and Brian Elliott combined for a league-leading 15 shutouts last season, sharing the Jennings Trophy.

Howard was pulled after Stewart's power-play goal at 1:15 of the third.

"I felt pretty good out there except on the breakaways," Howard said. "I gave the guys way too much room."

The Red Wings' power play was 0 for 4.

"Well, obviously it was not the start we wanted," forward Henrik Zetterberg said. "I can't pinpoint just one thing.

"We didn't have the puck that much, and when we had the puck, we didn't shoot."

Vladimir Tarasenko (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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