After a tough game the night before against Los Angeles, the Blues arrived in Chicago at 4 AM and could have made a ton of excuses for losing tonight's game. After falling behind 5-2 after one those excuses were right on the tips of most fans tongues, but something happened that we haven't seen in a Blues team since Joel Queneville was OUR coach. This team finally kicked it into another gear and took a really good team by surprise, not only gaining an important point by forcing overtime but in getting both points with the win.
Well this was the most interesting period the Blues have played all year and that's not a compliment. Most teams coming off of a game the previous night tend to hold a slight edge in the first period but tonight was not one of those nights. After some really solid pressure and chances in the opening minutes, the Blues would fall behind after Carl Gunnarsson was pokechecked by Ryan Hartman and the puck landed on Marko Dano's stick who was wide open in front of the net:
Colton Parayko would put his name out on the national stage in this game in both a good way and a not so good way. First the good; less then a minute after falling behind, Parayko would fire the puck from the point and with help from Alex Steen's leg, the puck would find the back of the net:
After that goal the Blues had some jump but a mistake by Parayko, the bad, would lead to another Chicago chance. Colton would try feed the puck cross ice to his partner but two Hawks were in between and intercepted the pass leading to a 2-0 break. Parayko would give chase but only end up preventing Andrew Shaw from getting a shot by bringing him down resulting in a penalty shot.
You could feel after seeing that go in how Elliott's night was going to go. It didn't get much better as Teravainen would gather a rebound two minutes later and slip it past Elliott's outstretched pad to put Chicago up 3-1. Hitchcock would pull Elliott after that to give the team and goaltender a breather as 4 goals were scored in a high paced 7 minute span. Elliott would return after the commercial timeout.
Robby Fabbri would continue his strong play early this season as he called his own number on an odd man break to pull the Blues within one. After sticking to his defensive responsibility in his own zone, Fabbri took the puck from his own zone, crossed the neutral zone and using David Backes and Parayko for screens, fired a laser past Corey Crawford:
Unfortunately, the Blues forgot about the last 5 minutes of the period and the Hawks would take advantage like Patrick Kane in the off-season. With roughly 3 minutes to go Brent Seabrook would re-establish the Hawks two goal lead after Kane lead the Blues defense on a crazy maze and made a nifty behind the back pass to Seasbrook who fired it past Elliott.
But that wasn't all that minute of hockey provided Chicago. Jonathon Toews would find himself on a partial break 30 seconds later but Elliott would turn his shot away. Backes would proceed to bulldoze Toews into Elliott not only drawing a penalty but also knocking Elliott back out of the game. Jake Allen would come back into the game still not entirely warmed up and his first shot against was a power play shot from Kane that he never saw.
The period would thankfully end for the Blues with no more goals against. Chicago skated circles around the Blues in the first and I don't think this is what Hitch had in mind when he said we just needed to weather the storm of the first. Even with minimal sustained pressure in the offensive zone though, the Blues had managed to score 2 more goals then the previous night.
Whatever Hitch said in the locker room at intermission did something to the Blues and to Chicago as the gameplay of both teams seemed to magically switch sides. St. Louis would dominate the first seven minutes of the second gaining an 8-1 shot advantage to bring the game more in to line. Another Parayko shot would find its way to Steen's legs and the Blues were one step closer to a tie game.
The Hawks would come alive 8 minutes in to the period and Allen had to be sharp as a wrap around attempt almost restored the three goal lead. Bouwmeester would take an interference penalty and you could see the sloppiness creeping back into the game for the Blues. The Blues, though, would weather the storm over those four minutes and then would put the pressure right back onto Chicago.
The Blues came into the game tonight 0 for their last 22 on the power play, so when Teravainen took an interference penalty late in the second I didn't have much confidence in the Blues scoring again. But the defense and vets came through yet again as Troy Brouwer and Scott Gomez would get the unit set up and, after a near giveaway, would get the puck to Bouwmeester who slipped the puck under Crawford's pad.
Well all of a sudden we are starting to feel pretty good again. Going into the third down only a goal and getting some great goaltending yet again from Jake Allen. We could find a goal in the third to steal a point at least, right? David Backes didn't want to go in to the break down a goal. In what has become almost a yearly ritual for him, Backes would take a puck off the rebound of the end boards and somehow find a way past Crawford at a terrible angle.
Just like that, with 33 seconds to play in the second, the Blues had clawed their way back to a 5-5 tie and new life in a game most people probably switched off after the first.
Heading into the third, though, the Blues revealed that they had lost yet another player as Steve Ott was ruled out for the rest of the game. Now, I am not one who thinks he is a great player but Ott has been playing some great hockey as of late and seeing him leaving the ice after hitting Seabrook in the second was another gut punch we don't need. An update on Ott and Elliott will be out tomorrow according to Hitch.
Alex Steen tried to kill all the positive buzz the team built in the second by taking back to back penalties to start the third but the Blues did a mighty fine job killing them off. Combined they allowed only one shot on the two power plays. After that the pace of play took a slight tick down but Chicago controlled the play handily as they out chanced the Blues 7-0 midway through the period.
The Blues best chance came on a three on two with Gomez finding the trailing Pietrangelo who fired the puck just wide of the net. Gomez would try and get a shot on goal but was denied as well. That was pretty much the third as it seemed like both teams didn't want to give up the big play and run the risk of losing the point they both wanted.
Thankfully the game got back to the fun of the first as overtime started. Having Tarasenko, Steen, Toews, Kane, Seabrook and Pietrangelo out at the same time put you right back on the edge of your seat. Both teams would get odd man breaks but a bouncing puck here and good stick work thwarted any real chance of a goal. With under two to play, the Blues would gain the Chicago zone and started cycling the puck. Pietrangelo would wind up with the puck on his stick and he made sure he got the puck to Vladimir and Tarasenko did what Tank does best:
I wouldn't have believed it if I wouldn't have watched the game myself. I didn't think this team had the makeup to come back in such a hostile environment, on national TV let alone down so many key players. Hats off to this team and here's hoping that this is the moment we turned the corner and shook that huge monkey off our back of not being able to beat good teams. The Blues will look to make it two in a row on the road when they take on Nashville Saturday night. Rumor has it a certain defensemen will be returning to the lineup for that game and it will be a welcome sight.
Three Stars (from here on out my three stars, not the NHL version)
#3 - Vladimir Tarasenko: GWG in overtime, this kid can't be stopped unless he wants you to stop him
#2 - Alex Steen's lower body: while his stick never touched the puck, he did get two goals
#1 - Jake Allen: 27 saves total, all after giving up goal on first shot faced