ST. LOUIS (AP) Robert Thomas had two goals and an assist and the St. Louis Blues won in interim coach Drew Bannister’s NHL coaching debut, beating the Ottawa Senators 4-2 on Thursday night to end a four-game losing streak.

Bannister was moved up from the Blues’ American Hockey League affiliate in Springfield after Craig Berube who was fired Tuesday night.

“It’s not about me, it’s never going to be about me,” Bannister said. “It’s about the group of players out there. When I look at the game, I’m proud of the way we played. This group has gone through a lot in the last 48 hours and it wasn’t perfect, but they responded well here tonight.”

Pavel Buchnevich added a goal and an assist, Brandon Saad also scored and Justin Faulk had a two assists. Jordan Binnington made 32 saves.

Dominik Kubalik and Mathieu Joseph scored for Ottawa and Joonas Korpisalo made 26 saves. The Senators have dropped three of four.

“I think we didn’t have our normal jump, I would say,” Joseph said. “You know, I feel like we didn’t have our legs and we’re a fast team and I feel like we weren’t using your speed the right way tonight.”

The Blues had the early jump, starting the game with an 11-0 shots advantage.

Thomas gave the Blues the lead at 8:20 of the first, putting a shot between Korpisalo’s pads after Faulk’s outlet pass sprung him on a breakaway.

Thomas made it 2-0 at 5:17 of the second period, cleaning up the rebound off Faulk’s shot. Thomas has a team-high 12 goals and has six goals and six assists in his last 12 games.

“It was a great game by everyone,” Thomas said. “You know, we came together as a team, everyone pulled their weight. Everyone did a great job from start to finish.”

Saad extended the lead at 8:42 of the second, burying Nick Leddy’s feed into an open net.

Kubalik got the Senators on the board with 9:38 left in the second. The goal came less than a minute after Senators captain Brady Tkachuk dropped the gloves with Tyler Tucker in an effort to give the team a spark.

“Obviously, they came out real hard,” Senators coach D.J. Smith said. “You know, we turned over two or three in the first period that allowed them to have a lot of zone time, gain momentum. And they came out way sharper than we did."

Buchnevich connected at 7:07 of the third period, snapping a four-game scoring drought, and Joseph scored late for Ottawa.

The line of Thomas, Jordan Kyrou, and Buchnevich, combined for six points.

“I think the biggest thing we had each other’s backs out there,” Thomas said. “You could see it on the ice. You know, mistakes happen all the time. And you know we’re there for one another. We killed plays, had each other’s backs, and it was a fun brand hockey to play and we’re excited in the direction we’re going.”

The game was a difficult one for Kyrou, who was booed by the home crowd whenever he touched the puck. Berube, who led the Blues to the Stanley Cup in 2019, was popular among fans and some blame Kyrou’s slow start as one of the reasons for his firing.

Kyrou also made a comment after the morning skate that some interpreted as critical of Berube. He clarified after the game that he meant no disrespect to Berube.

“Yeah, I definitely heard those,” an emotional Kyrou said of the boos. “That’s not easy obviously, but I see where they’re coming from of my comments (earlier in the day) on it. That’s definitely tough. I love playing here, I love playing in front of the fans.”


Senators: At Dallas on Friday night.

Blues: Host Dallas on Saturday night.



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