ST. LOUIS (AP) — Oskar Sundqvist was concerned about more than just hockey after he sustained serious facial injuries on an illegal hit by Tom Wilson in a preseason game against the Washington Capitals on Sept. 30.
Sundqvist made a statement in his third game since getting back in the lineup by scoring two rare goals to lead the St. Louis Blues past the Vegas Golden Knights 5-3 on Thursday night.
The 24-year-old center from Sweden didn’t think he would return to action this soon.
“I’m happy to be able to be back and mostly happy that my head is completely fine,” Sundqvist said.
Vladimir Tarasenko, Tyler Bozak and Colton Parayko also scored for the Blues. Jake Allen stopped 31 shots for his first win against Vegas after going 0-0-2 last season.
“We’re just connected more as a group,” Allen said after the Blues won consecutive games for the first time this season. “Before we had spurts, but spurts aren’t good enough in this league.”
Sundqvist’s second goal of the game — and the season — put the Blues ahead to stay 6:29 into the second period on a pass from Robert Thomas. Sundqvist entered with just two goals in 72 NHL games.
Blues coach Mike Yeo wasn’t surprised by his performance.
“We’ve seen that upside,” Yeo said. “I don’t know that we’re going to expect him to score two goals every single game he plays this year. He’s moving better. He’s playing with more confidence.”
Parayko added some insurance when he rifled a one-timer from Ryan O’Reilly past Marc-Andre Fleury for his third of the season 14:51 into the second to make it 4-2.
Fleury allowed five goals, matching a season high, on 26 shots and fell to 5-5-1. He also gave up five goals on Oct. 4 versus Philadelphia.
“Usually when you give up five goals you say your goaltending wasn’t good,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. “Well that wasn’t the case at all. They could have had 10 goals.”
Vegas cut its deficit to 4-3 when Alex Tuch scored his third of the season on a power play from point-blank range 8:02 into the third. Bozak responded with his third goal 3:45 later.
“I thought on our end we got a little lackadaisical,” Tuch said. “We gave them too many opportunities, too many chances, and that’s what happens.”
Tarasenko got his team-leading sixth goal when he used his backhand to push Bozak’s deflected shot into the wide-open near side of the net to give St. Louis a 2-1 edge 3:11 into the second.
Erik Haula tied it only 23 seconds later with his second of the season as his shot from the point trickled through Allen’s pads.
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare made it 1-all at 6:29 when he beat Allen from in front after the Blues failed to clear the puck from behind the net.
Sundqvist scored his first goal 2:02 into the first period. He found a loose puck in front of Fleury and turned on one knee to slide it into an open net. Thomas also assisted on that goal and ended up with his first career multipoint game.
NOTES: Blues LW Robby Fabbri skated in his first regular-season game since Feb. 4, 2017, versus Toronto, which was Yeo’s first game as St. Louis coach. Fabbri missed 123 games after tearing the ACL in his left knee twice. … St. Louis has allowed at least three goals in 10 of 11 games this season. … O’Reilly extended his point streak to six games (three goals, eight assists). … Vegas is 1-7-0 when trailing after two periods. … Vegas LW Jonathan Marchessault has a point in three consecutive games.
Golden Knights: Host the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night.
Blues: Host the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night.