The St. Louis Blues did not play well enough to win on Saturday. Thankfully their goaltender did. Jaroslav Halak stopped thirty-nine of the forty-one shots he faced, and the Blues beat the Jets in a shootout. Even though the Blues entered the second period up 2-0, Winnipeg dominated the game offensively. Blake Wheeler scored two goals in the second period to tie it going into the third period. After a scoreless third period and overtime, the Blues entered their second shootout of the week. Andy McDonald and David Perron scored and Halak made three saves in the shootout to earn the Blues an extra point on the road. St. Louis was outshot 41-16, but the outstanding play of Jaro Halak preserved a Blues win.
Halak was subject to a barrage of Winnipeg shots on Saturday. He was, without question, the main reason the Blues won in Winnipeg for the first time since 1997. After missing much of last week with the flu, Jaro has put on two excellent performances in consecutive road games. On Thursday night in Nashville, Halak made twenty-six saves and blanked the Predators in a shootout. On saturday the trend continued, as Jaro stopped thirty-nine of the forty-one shots he faced and let up only one shootout conversion en route to another road win. Perhaps the most impressive save Halak made on Saturday was in the shootout. Winnipeg forward, Andrew Ladd took a wrist shot that was seemingly nestled between Halak’s pads. When Halak turned, the puck slid out from under his pads and was moving towards the goal line. Jaro saw the puck at the last second and made a desperation save, swiping the puck out of the crease with his left pad. The save made the number two spot on Sportscenter’s Top Ten.
For a team that was ranked 27th in shootout efficiency entering the week, the Blues have looked nothing short of spectacular in such situations this week. St. Louis has picked up two extra points in Nashville and Winnipeg courtesy of their shootout victories. Halak made two excellent saves in the shootout, and Andy McDonald and David Perron converted on their respective attempts to give St. Louis the victory. The addition of Andy McDonald to has undoubtedly bolstered the Blues’ sub par shootout lineup. Blues fans, shootout duds may be a thing of the past for the remainder of the season.
The Blues current road trip has started ideally. With a divisional win in Nashville and Saturday’s highway robbery in Winnipeg, St. Louis is now just two points behind Detroit and is in position to regain the division lead. With big games coming up in Vancouver and San Jose, the Blues have an excellent opportunity to establish themselves as the best team in the Western Conference and, possibly, the best in the entire league.