Tonight won't be easy, but no one ever said that the playoffs were easy. The Blues have proven that, letting a 2-0 series lead slip away to a 3-2 series deficit. Tonight is win or go home.
Of course, a win tonight and the Blues do go home, back to St. Louis for a game seven. Game five heroics weren't enough, as Alex Pietrangelo forced an overtime period that ended eight minutes in when Slava Voynov got a whiffed shot past Brian Elliott. You can't blame Elliott for the goal:
"I was hustling back as hard as I could and got a stick on him," Schwartz said. "He definitely wasn’t going five-hole there. If anything, he fanned on the shot. I got a stick on him, but it wasn’t enough."
Elliott was anticipating the puck to rise, but instead it stayed at ice level.
"One of those plays that you’re not going to tell your guys not to get in front of the puck, but stick on stick can kind of change the trajectory a little bit," Elliott said. "That’s why anything can happen in overtime."
And that's why you don't let the games get to overtime to begin with. However, that happening necessitates the Blues combining scoring with responsible defense tonight, and that's been a problem. The one game where the Blues scored more than two goals, they lost 4-3 thanks to defensive lapses, the highlight of which was Kevin Shattenkirk trapped on a 3-on-1. Hockey is not made up of either-or moments. You really are allowed to play defense and offense in the same game.
It would be nice if someone would get that memo to the forwards; the defense has done their job on both this series. Alexander Steen and Jaden Schwartz have been outstanding, but the rest of the team has failed to impress. T.J. Oshie scored two in game four, but was on the ice for LA's goals. David Backes tapped in an easy open-net goal, but that was just one out of about 20 chances that Jonathan Quick has given up. David Perron has been in the LA net more than the puck has, and Andy McDonald isn't the right player to be a key cog in such a physical series.
I have faith that the Blues can win tonight, but that faith hasn't been rewarded regularly all season. The Blues have gone through on-again/off-again slumps from which they have recovered with a pop. A recovery tonight, and I'll believe in round two.