Ken Hitchcock has been working on win number 600 for a couple of games now. I'm sure that the Blues would have loved to have helped him get there sooner, but they were kind of wrapped up with the not scoring. It took the Blues 92 shots between goals to get off of the schneid, and the last goal that they had scored before tonight in Columbus was probably more of a happy accident than anything purposeful.
I won't lie, when Alex Edler scored Vancouver's only goal with 12 seconds left in the second period, I was about ready to throw in the towel. When the Blues' Jay Bouwmeester finally scored, I was incredulous that this game would make it to extra innings. I'm happy to be proven wrong. In all honesty this was an extremely entertaining game, and one that I hated to see go to the skills competition, but one where I was also very happy to see it end with an Alexander Steen goal.
The best thing about the game is that it began like the Chicago game, but it continued with that same speed and tempo the entire time; Vancouver's goal didn't zap the life out of the team. It's pretty obvious that the Canucks and Blues still dislike each other, and David Backes took every chance he had to remind them of two things: why they offer-sheeted the captain years ago and why they hate him so much. Sure, some of the physicality was stupid (Backes' check into the boards on Burrows wasn't smart, nor was the crosscheck to his noggin following it) but the rest of the game he was in the mix, and it wasn't anger-frustration like we can see from the captain. This was him willing the team along. How powerful was Backes' message? He got a little over 15 minutes of ice time, and was a +1 -- and was the first star of the game over Bouwmeester or Brian Elliott (who stopped 21 of 22 shots).
I would be remiss to not point out the excellent job that Cory Schneider did tonight. The Blues had 36 shots on net tonight, and only one got through. Excellent goaltending, but also a symptom of the weird collective "team yips" that the Blues have. If you have that many shots on net, and this isn't just true for this game, more than one goal should probably go in.
The only player that got more than 20 minutes of icetime tonight was Alex Pietrangelo. The guys are getting pooped as the year's winding down, and Ken Hitchcock's doing good bench management. Let's hope there's still some fire left in the tank, because there are six games remaining.