Blues Defeat Panthers With Lehtera’s Shootout Magic


The St. Louis Blues (37-15-4) defeated the the Florida Panthers (24-19-12) 2-1 after a shootout in Sunrise, Florida on Sunday afternoon.  This game was the second of two regular season meetings between the two teams.  The first game back in December resulted in a 4-2 win for the Blues.  While tonight’s game wasn’t as important as prior games which were against direct opponents in the standings, this win has put the Blues 4 points behind the leading Nashville Predators as well as 4 points ahead of the 3rd place Chicago Blackhawks.  This is breathing room that the Central Division has not seen this season.

Feb 13, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin (91) is helped off the ice by defenseman Alex Goligoski (33) and right wing Erik Cole (72) and right wing Patrick Eaves (18) during the third period against the Florida Panthers at the American Airlines Center. The Stars shut out the Panthers 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Blues were still without Chris Porter and Kevin Shattenkirk, who missed the game due to injury.  Shattenkirk joined the Blues on their trip to Florida as he recovered from a recent abdominal surgery.  Bigger news though, was that the Panthers were without Dmitry Kulikov, who has been suspended indefinitely for an illegal hip-check that taken Dallas Stars Forward Tyler Seguin out of action for a few games.


The game started strong for the Blues although they took a few off-sides calls in the first three minutes.  Both teams made some excellent scoring chances within the first six minutes.  After ten minutes of routine play, the Blues led in shots 5-2.

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At 14:19 T.J. Oshie took the first call of the game for holding.  The Blues kept the Panthers from setting up in their zone for too long and killed the penalty only allowing a few shots.  Both teams continued to play hard through the end of the period.  They went scoreless with the Blues holding on to their shot lead at 13-7.

The second period began with a stronger effort from the Panthers.  The teams continued to put up a strong offense through the first half of the period.  After ten minutes shots for the period were 4-3 in favor of the Blues.

Feb 15, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; St. Louis Blues left wing Jaden Schwartz (17) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Florida Panthers in the second period at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

At 11:48 the Blues cracked the scoreboard after Jaden Schwartz scored from near the crease.  Jori Lehtera and Barret Jackman earned the assists.  Then at 14:58 during a delayed call on the Blues, Shawn Thornton and Ryan Reaves tossed their gloves.  Both players earned 7 minutes; five for fighting with two more to Reaves for interference and two to Thornton for unsportsmanlike conduct.  This kept the teams at even strength.

The teams continued to battle, and ended the period with the Blues in the lead 1-0 with 24 shots to the Panthers’ 18.

The third period began with a lot of early whistles.  The Panthers put up their strongest effort of the game and almost scored into the third minute after Brian Elliot misplayed the puck.  After four minutes of play the Panthers closed the shot gap to 24-23.

Feb 15, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; Florida Panthers right wing Shawn Thornton (22) and St. Louis Blues right wing Ryan Reaves (75) fight in the second period at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Oshie broke the momentum with a strong shot and an excellent rebound chance but was unable to score.  At 8:47 Derek Mackenzie and Ian Cole went to the box for roughing after some pushing following a play to put the teams 4 on 4.  With 14 seconds left in the penalties, Jori Lehtera was called for hooking.

The Panthers came close to scoring on the 4 on 3 but Elliot dove on the puck.  The teams then went 5 on 4 and the Panthers overtook the Blues in shots 31-29.  The Blues killed the penalty but allowed the Panthers to increase their shot lead to 36-25 along the way.  The Panthers continued to put up strong pressure.

With 1:30 left the Panthers pulled Roberto Luongo from the net.  Seventeen seconds later, after a defensive zone faceoff for the Blues, Nick Bjugstad took the puck off the endboards and scored to tie the game at 1.  The Panthers held on to the end of the period to send the game to overtime.

The Blues started overtime with some increased energy.  After two minutes the teams had taken a few turns at offensive attacks.  However, the Blues took over the action in the final two minutes.  It wasn’t enough, though, and the game went to a shootout.

T.J. Oshie went first and hit the crossbar.  Nuck Bjugstad hit Elliot’s glove.  Tarasenko scored after nicking the post.  Brad Boyes scored high glove to even things out.  Alexander Steen’s shot was swatted away.  Jonathan Huberdeau hit Elliot dead center.  Dmitrij Jaskin couldn’t get it past Luongo stick side.  Jimmy Hayes’s shot went over the net.  Jori Lehtera snuck the puck through the five-hole.  Jussi Jokinen couldn’t get the puck past Elliot to give the Blues the shootout win.


There is, and at the same time, is not a whole lot to say about this game.  What is worrisome is that while all lines had some very strong moments, they weren’t consistent in their performances.  Both the first (Steen, Backes, Oshie) and fourth (Reaves, Ott, Goc) lines played excellent first and third periods.  The second wasn’t so great for them.  Luckily the third line of Stastny, Jaskin and Berglund picked up some of the slack in the second and early minutes of the third.  The STL line didn’t seem to be firing on all cylinders either, with a lot of bad passes and broken plays.  This is, of course, if you ignore Schwartz’s goal and Lehtera’s beautiful game winning shootout goal.

Feb 15, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo (1) reacts after giving up the game winning goal to St. Louis Blues center Jori Lehtera (12) in a shootout at BB&T Center. The Blues won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

There is no video of Lehtera’s shot, yet, but when there is we will post it.  I have a strong feeling, though, that Jori just earned himself a top spot in the shootout squad.

The Blues did have some problems on their penalty kill, especially in the third period.  Lucky for the Blues, Shawn Thornton let his temper get the best of him, which nullified the delayed penalty on Ryan Reaves.  Had this not happened, this game may not have gone in the Blues’ favor.  After allowing so many shots on the penalty kills, it was obvious the Blues were going to have problems with the Panthers pulled Luongo in the final minute.

But, a win is a win, and in this case the OT point didn’t go to a team in any position to knock the Blues off their rung of the ladder.

What are your thoughts?  Leave a comment below.

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