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Tarasenko shines in Blues' shutout win over Red Wings

The SportsXchange

ST. LOUIS -- The lockout forced Vladimir Tarasenko to delay his NHL debut with the St. Louis Blues, but it turned out to be worth the wait.

The 20-year-old Tarasenko, who had been playing in his native Russia during the lockout, scored the first two goals of his NHL career Saturday night -- on his first two shots -- to lead the Blues to a 6-0 victory over the Detroit Red Wings.

Tarasenko scored 13 minutes into the first period and added a power-play goal just 29 seconds into the second period as the Blues pounded Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard. The Blues outshot the Red Wings 27-7 in the first two periods, including 17-2 in the opening period, in building a commanding 4-0 lead. For the game, the Blues outshot the Red Wings 36 to 14.

Tarasenko had an easier time with the Red Wings than he did with the media after the game in trying to explain what his first game was like through very limited English skills.

"It was like a dream," was about all Tarasenko was able to say, but his big smile said how he truly felt.

His teammates and coach had no trouble expressing their thoughts on Tarasenko's debut.

"It's hard to tell how good a player is in practice," said T.J. Oshie, "but you see him go out there and make the plays he did. You can see he's a complete player."

Tarasenko, St. Louis' first-round pick in the 2010 draft, became the first Blues player to score on the first two shots of his career since Jaden Schwartz did it last year, although not in the same game.

"That was a great way to start the season," said Blues' defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. "We're going to try to not put too much pressure on him, but he was extremely impressive tonight. It's going to be fun to see how he does."

Coach Ken Hitchcock thinks Tarasenko will be helped by playing on the same line as veterans Andy McDonald and Alex Steen.

"He wants to learn," Hitchcock said. "He wants to be a part of this team and he wants to be part of a line. He wants to please the veteran players. Andy and Steener are going to nurture him. They were on the bench working with him. He's going to be a really good player in this league but he is also a really good kid."

Chris Stewart added power-play goals in the first and third periods for the Blues while T.J. Oshie scored a shorthanded goal in helping make the night easy for St. Louis goalie Jaroslav Halak. After Stewart's second goal, 1:15 into the third period, the Red Wings pulled Howard and inserted backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson. Patrik Berglund added the final St. Louis goal, on another power play, with five minutes left in the game.

"They were better than us from start to finish," said Red Wings coach Mike Babcock. "They were quicker, more competitive around the puck. We gave them goals. i can think of four goals that were just gifts. You have to give them credit, they were all over us, we didn't generate anything.

"They dominated us from start to finish so we obviously have to be way better than this. It's one thing to get beat but it's another not to be competitive and we weren't competitive."

Tarasenko failed in his bid to become the fifth player in NHL history to score a hat trick in his first career game. The last player to do it was Derek Stepan of the New York Rangers on Oct. 9, 2010.

The return of hockey in St. Louis drew a standing-room only crowd of 20,035 fans to the Scottrade Center.

NOTES: The Red Wings started a season without defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom for the first time since 1991. Lidstrom retired after last season. ... The Blues and Red Wings will play four times in the first 13 games of the season, between Saturday night and Feb. 13. ... Vladimir Tarasenko became the 14th Blues player to score a goal in his first game in the NHL. ... Also playing his first game in the NHL was Detroit's Damien Brunner, 26, who was an undrafted free agent who signed with the Red Wings in July after playing in Switzerland. He played on the same line with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk.
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