The Blues needed a comeback and an extra period to win Sunday night at home against the Minnesota Wild, and they got both thanks in large part to Vladimir Sobotka. Vlad played his usual high-level energy game, putting on a fore and back-checking clinic, running over the Wild’s top blue-liner, Ryan Suter, and scoring the game winning goal in overtime giving the St. Louis 2 points and another home win, 5-4.
This was not the Blues best effort from the start, though it obviously ended well for the Note. The 1st period saw a lot of carelessness in their own zone, failing numerous times to clear pucks, coughing it up along the boards and a busy Brian Elliot needed help from a post. Ells didn’t look sharp early on or really, throughout the game, which showed in 4 goals allowed.
The Blues continued to struggle early on face-offs, but they matched Minnesota’s physical play and a great shift by David Backes, TJ Oshie, and Alex Pietrangelo resulted in a one-time howitzer shot by Wade Redden that ended up in the back of the net for a 1-0 Blues lead.
The same line’s hard work paid off again, drawing a penalty late in the 1st period, but the Blues failed to convert, making too many passes and ultimately not establishing pressure on the power play. They improved as the game wore on but credit the Wild in keeping the Blues off the scoreboard with the man advantage. After a scorching start to the season, the Note’s power play is 0 for its last 10 opportunities.
Minnesota, on the other hand, wasted no time capitalizing on mistakes. Zach Parise turned a pretty bad penalty by Petro into a quick goal to tie it up early in the 2nd period. The Wild really impressed me by clogging up the passing lanes and the Blues had a tough time in transition throughout most of the 2nd period. Elliot continued to look soft, allowing another Parise power play goal and later a rocket by Mikko Koivu that was in and out of the net so quickly it took an official review to confirm a 3-1 Wild lead.
After three unanswered Wild tallies, the Blues got the momentum swinging in their favor with just under five minutes left in the 2nd period on a brilliant display of David Perron’s puck handling abilities. Perron fought off a check, hawked down the puck behind the net and skated around through the slot, untouched, feeding a wide open Patrik Berglund for an easy score. Perron’s dangling had Wild goaltender, Niklas Backstrom, flopping down on his belly. Berglund actually fumbled Perron’s pass but had time to settle and flip the puck over the outstretched Backstrom for the goal.
The Blues came out buzzing in the 3rd period, though Minnesota held on, continuing to block numerous shots and passes, but the Note seemed energized. St. Louis was noticeably better in the face-off circle, and working the puck up the ice than earlier in the game. Chris Stewart scored on a beautiful tip of a Petro blast to tie the game at 3, seconds after a power play ended, and Barret Jackman finally got on the scoring carousel, putting a puck on net that went through Backstrom to give the Blues the lead about two minutes later. The Blues D ended the night with 7 points.
Minnesota never gave up though, and Dany Heatley tied the game again, 4-4, on a questionable high-stick goal. With the puck arcing up above the crossbar, Heatley smartly waited just long enough for it to come back down below the pipe to deftly whack it out of mid-air and into the net. For a second time that night, the officials had to convene and ultimately confirm a Wild goal. St. Louis looked tired as the Wild poured on the pressure, looking to win the game in regulation, but it was not to be.
What did transpire was a solid, power forward-esque, game winning goal in the extra session by Sobotka after some gritty play along the boards by Roman Polak and a beautiful feed in front by Andy McDonald. Sobotka stood his ground in front of Backstrom, with Suter practically sharing his sweater, and knocked in the pass to win it for St. Louis, 5-4.
The Blues got the 2 points but have now had to come from behind in three of their five wins. I’ll take the outcome, but I’m hoping we’ll see fewer rally wins and more dominating performances like we saw versus Detroit. The Note has the depth and talent to win right now, and Petro said it before the game started Sunday night: Four lines, 60 minutes. The Blues simply need to execute.
GO BLUES! Long live the Note!