The St. Louis Blues staved off potential elimination for one more game. Despite the fact they were forced into overtime, the Blues came out on top.
The St. Louis Blues surely did not make things easy on themselves against the New York Rangers. Nevertheless, they managed to keep themselves alive for another night.
The Blues came out well enough in the first period. St. Louis scored the only goal of the period with an Alex Pietrangelo sweep shot from the slot.
However, as would happen throughout the game, the Blues could not hold onto the lead. New York managed to tie the game almost immediately in the second period.
The Blues would take the lead later on in the period with the first goal in the Blues career of Nikita Soshnikov. It was a monster of a wrist shot and gave the Blues some good momentum.
Again, that lead only lasted about 10 minutes before the Rangers struck again. Mats Zuccarello tied the game and then Mika Zibanejad scored his second of the game to take a 3-2 lead about two minutes after that.
It looked bleak for the Blues going into the third. They had failed to make comeback wins so often this season. Even the radio crew were getting audibly frustrated with the Blues horrible power play. Coincidentally, Pietrangelo scored moments after those negative comments to even up the game.
Finally, the Blues won in overtime on a fantastic play by Brayden Schenn. Now, they live to fight another day.
Brayden Schenn continues to prove his value to this team.
It is easy to point to the stat sheet for all that Schenn has done for the Blues. He’s got 25 goals and is just shy of 60 points right now.
Beyond that, his overall effort is something the entire team could and should learn from. Like anyone, he has his bad games but he goes out there and gives it his all on most every night. This was one of those games.
He was good in the faceoff circle, threw a team-high four hits and put four pucks on net. No shot was more important than the one he took in overtime.
It was a solid pass up the wall, but it was all Schenn after that. The effort to stop on a dime and then blast the wrister past the goaltender was just fantastic.
That’s what you expect from your top players. They need to show up in the big moments and he did just that.
Vladimir Tarasenko gets injured and Blues fans turn on him.
First and foremost, let us say that nobody knows the full extent of Tarasenko’s injury. He went in for a puck battle in the corner in the first period, got shaken up and never returned.
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It’s bad enough to lose one of, if not your best player. However, the quickness and ferociousness of Blues fans to turn against him was somewhat sad.
We all want our sport heroes to be like the players of old. We want to tell stories of how they played through pain and still went on to score that big goal. However, again, we don’t know what happened.
If Tarasenko entered into the league mandated concussion protocol, it would not have been up to him to return. He could protest until he was blue in the face and it would not have been allowed.
From what we see in the video, yes, it looked rather innocuous. As a fan, you’d like him to shrug that off and keep going.
Not making excuses, we don’t know how that affected him. I’ve seen boxers get hit with less and go down and we’ve all seen people get blown up with bigger hits and keep going. Maybe it rang his bell, maybe the team wanted to hold him out or maybe he is just a wuss like some want to believe. Whatever helps you sleep at night. I still hope it is nothing and he’ll be ready tomorrow.
Jake Allen came up with the biggest save he’s had in weeks in overtime, even after a so-so game.
For the second game in a row, Allen was ok-to-good, but not great. The first goal initially looked like one he should have had, but ended up being a last second deflection.
The second goal was simply bad luck. Allen should have had it covered, but swept it off the goal line and onto his pad and then back into the goal.
The third goal was a back-door power play goal that very few would have stopped. All that aside, it was not Jake’s best game by far but we have seen far worse.
The bad thing was his save percentage took a big hit due to the lack of shots on target by the Rangers. They had 43 attempts, but only 20 shots on goal.
Still, for all his faults, Allen came up big when the Blues needed him most. With the defenders left in the dust, Allen made a game-saving stop to keep the Blues alive in overtime.
Love him or not, Allen saved the Blues’ bacon right there. A single point probably does nothing for them. A win keeps them alive.
The defense went back and forth from dominating to timid.
It’s hard to fault a defensive performance where half the shots taken from an opponent were forced away from the net. St. Louis had 17 blocked shots with the most coming from Colton Parayko.
However, on the negative side, the defense would back off too much. That has been their biggest issue all season and while they had gotten away from it in recent games, it crept back in.
It’s understandable to want to give yourself a little room when players are on the rush at full speed. However, even when the Rangers were simply possessing in the zone, the Blues kept backing off and boxing in their own goaltender.
It was not throughout the game, which is good. Still, it kept happening in key situations.
The Blues are not the fastest team around, but they have to keep on their toes. Being flat-footed seems to always kill them.
The Blues seem to be settling into their role of a team that is not good enough to win a championship but is good enough to make the playoffs. The question now is whether they dug themselves too big a hole.
The Blues had some bad bounces and created their own bad luck on a few plays. That said, overall they were the better team on this night.
Instead of finding a way to snuff out their opponent’s hope, they kept allowing the Rangers back into the game. Full credit has to go to the Rangers for taking the game by the neck. It’s not as though they are a bad team, by any stretch. Still, the Blues could have done much more to make this game easier on themselves.
It gets tiring to say, but at this stage, a win is a win. It could be the most god-awful, disgusting game but if you come out with two points, it is worth it.
This was an entertaining game, if not frustrating at points. But, when you win and you have some very good moments to talk about such as the Allen save and Schenn goal, then it’s a good night of hockey.