Kevin Shattenkirk’s second game-winning goal in less than 24 hours gave the St. Louis Blues a victory over the Dallas Stars in overtime on Sunday at the American Airlines Center. Shattenkirk scored a power-play goal inside the last minute of the extra frame giving the Blues the win in a game they had led 2-0 earlier on. Brian Elliott started in net for St. Louis and made 28 of 30 saves to earn his first win in Dallas as a Blue.
Shatty’s shootout winner Saturday night against Chicago sent the Blues on the road to Texas where they had to regroup quickly for an early (5pm) Sunday start. Derek Roy was back in the lineup after missing the previous game with the flu and St. Louis finally got Vladimir Sobotka back after missing the last 6-games. Alexander Steen was officially put on IR earlier in the day and the Blues would play Sunday without captain David Backes, but the team’s depth and toughness really shined against a hot Stars club who’d won their last three starts at home.
Sobotka’s presence on the ice paid immediate dividends when Jaden Schwartz put the Blues on top 1-0 early in the 1st period with a power-play goal, his 5th goal in as many games. Schwartz was parked alone to Kari Lehtonen’s left and a picture-perfect, tic-tac-toe passing sequence from TJ Oshie and Sobotka set up the easy goal.
The quick goal and Blues lead soured the Dallas crowd as the Stars had, they thought, scored a goal just 23 seconds into the game. Cody Eakin made a power move along the red-line a crashed the net, but while the puck did cross the goal-line, Eakin succeeded by barreling through Elliott and the goal was quickly waived off.
Oshie continued his strong game early in the 2nd period when, in alone on the forecheck, he stole the puck from a fumbling Kevin Connauton and fired a shot stick-side over Lehtonen’s shoulder, scoring through a hole barely bigger than the puck itself to give the Blues a 2-0 lead.
The St. Louis lead would evaporate as the 2nd period wore on, as Dallas out-skated the Blues, won all the battles for the puck and scored twice in about 3-minutes to tie the game 2-2. The Blues were lucky to head into the 3rd period tied and had to regroup as the Stars were beating them in nearly every aspect of the game. While relinquishing the lead was frustrating, I had to wonder if it simply wasn’t going to be in the cards for the Blues Sunday, playing with shuffled lines and on zero rest after the long bout with Chicago the night before.
Dallas out-shot the Blues 30-22 but Elliott and the St. Louis special teams were up to the task. The Blues had to kill an Oshie Slashing minor early in overtime, and would then earn a power-play of their own with about 35-seconds left. Roy, battling hard on the forecheck was upended and Shattenkirk would provide the game-winner once again, rocketing a one-timer off the inside of the goalpost and beating Lehtonen on the short-side with 11 seconds remaining to steal the second point for the Blues.
Sobie’s return off-set the absence of Backes on the top line, though Schwartz clearly never missed a beat with the Czech-wrecking ball out. Nonetheless, Sobie always brings physicality to the Blues and has also become one of their better play-makers. He also still sits at or near the top of the NHL in face-off winning percentage. Those kinds of benefits are tough to replace, though the Blues have continued to win in the face of multiple injuries.
The game also marked the return of Brenden Morrow to Dallas after having spent nearly ten seasons there as the Stars captain. Fans responded with a loud ovation after a tribute video to Morrow was played during the opening period.
The Blues headed to St. Paul after the game Sunday and have today off to recuperate before hitting the Xcel Energy Center ice tomorrow in a New Year’s Eve tilt versus the Minnesota Wild. The Note is now 12-0-1 against Central Division foes and has allowed the second fewest goals against (92) in the Western Conference this season. The big spending Wild have been disappointing offensively as only 2 other Western teams have scored fewer goals than their 96. The Wild blew a 3-0 lead Sunday to lose 5-4 at home and should be skating with a chip on their shoulders.
Jaroslav Halak beat the Wild 3-0 back in November in their first meeting of the season in St. Louis, and looks to start again tomorrow. Steen is out indefinitely with a concussion, the team confirmed Sunday, and with four other regulars still recovering from injuries the Blues will again look to their depth to continue rolling four lines and playing turnover-free defense, a large part of their recipe for success this season.
GO BLUES! LONG LIVE THE NOTE!