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All-Star Game

NHL All-Star Game thrill for Blues on home ice

Four starters, coach Berube call event 'great for the fans' despite Central Division loss

by Amalie Benjamin @AmalieBenjamin / NHL.com Staff Writer

ST. LOUIS -- Filling out his starting lineup should have been the easiest coaching decision of Craig Berube's career.

Given that, Alex Pietrangelo didn't think he had to say anything. He figured the St. Louis Blues coach had his plan under control for the Central Division in the second semifinal of the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Saturday. Or at least he hoped so.

"He asked me before the game, I was like, 'You really have one job: Start us.' Don't mess it up," said Pietrangelo, the Blues defenseman. "Glad he got that one right.

"Except he played us against [Edmonton Oilers center Connor] McDavid. It wasn't ideal."

 

[RELATED: Complete 2020 NHL All-Star Game coverage]

 

With the second semifinal about to start, pitting the Central against the Pacific Division, all four players on the ice for the 3-on-3 game were members of the Blues: forwards David Perron and Ryan O'Reilly, Pietrangelo, and goalie Jordan Binnington.

It was playing to the home crowd in the best possible way.

"Being here in St. Louis and starting our guys, it's great for them, great for the fans," said Berube, who was able to consult with honorary captain Brett Hull behind the bench. "It's all good stuff. No-brainer at all."

But the hometown players couldn't get the Central over the hump. It lost to the Pacific 10-5 at Enterprise Center, falling out of the running for the $1 million prize.

Perron was the only member of the Blues to score Saturday, assisted by Pietrangelo and O'Reilly, pulling the Central within 3-2 at 7:04 of the first period. After Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane tied it 3-3 at 7:18 -- and heard cheers turn to boos when the crowd realized who had scored -- the teams continued to go back-and-forth until the Pacific pulled away with five straight goals to end the game.

"It was a tough outcome, obviously," said Binnington, who made eight saves on 12 shots. "But it's a lot of fun, being in front of our home fans and seeing that elite talent. Players from all different teams just hopping on the ice and being able to connect with each other, it's not the result we wanted, but it was fun to be out there and fun to hear the Towel Man making some noise up there.

"It was overall a fun weekend. Now it's about time to get back to business."

Video: PAC@CEN: Perron nets a wrist shot from the circle

It has been a crazy, roller coaster of a year in St. Louis, where the Blues went worst-to-first, winning the Stanley Cup last season after being last in the NHL standings Jan. 3, 2019. They followed that up by packing Enterprise Center for the All-Star Game and hosting a Fan Fair that saw extremely high demand for moments with the Cup.

"It was a lot of fun, just seeing the crowd and how excited they were," O'Reilly said. "Would have been nice to win for them and give them some more to cheer about, but the reception from everyone was outstanding. It was electric. It was really cool to be a part of."

That started from the introductions, when Laila Anderson took the microphone to announce the four Blues All-Stars, demonstrating an impressive talent for the job. Anderson, the 11-year-old Blues superfan who has a rare disease called hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, was yet again a big presence around Enterprise Center this weekend, but never bigger than when she did her best impression of an NHL PA announcer Saturday.

"It was special, for all four of us," Perron said.

Video: Laila Anderson introduces Blues All-Stars

That moment, the moments on the ice, the whole weekend.

"Unbelievable, and it's all for the fans," Berube said. "We have great fans here. They supported this All-Star Game. They were very excited about it, having a good time. It's been a great. Awesome."

Even if their team didn't come out on top. 

"It would have been fun to have won, but I think for me just being in front of the crowd with these guys is pretty cool," Pietrangelo. "It's pretty special, after everything. Pretty fun to put on a show for our home crowd."

Video: David Perron discusses his first All-Star Game

Not that that home crowd has had a shortage of shows over the past year. 

As Pietrangelo said, "It's just been one heck of a story for this city." 

And though the Blues players were glad about Berube's decision on his starting lineup, they couldn't be quite sure how he had taken the loss.

"We didn't see him after the game," Perron said, deadpan. "He must be pretty [ticked] off. We'll find out tomorrow."

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