Well that was a fun Saturday night game wasn’t it? In a clash of teams where one has given up the least amount of goals in the league and the other team goes through stretches where it can’t score there were a plethora of chances throughout the night.
The Blues were hosting the Minnesota Wild for the second time this year but were missing all three of their goal scorers from the 3-2 victory back in the home opener. Alex Steen is out with an injury, Nail Yakupov is in Hitchcock’s doghouse and Magnus Paajarvi has been shipped off to parts unknown. But the Blues still had their most important piece and that’s their centerpiece goaltender.
Jake Allen has been absolutely lights out at home this year posting the best home GAA, 1.24 and Save Percentage, 95.3% in the league. With Minnesota coming off a 6-2 drubbing of Pittsburgh the Blues needed to lock it down defensively and stay out of the box if they wanted a chance to win.
The game started off on the right foot as the Blues were able to pressure the Wild defense and every line was hunting the puck down in the offensive zone and peppering Devin Dubnyk with shots. But Dubnyk doesn’t hold one of the best GAA’s and save percentages in the league for no reason, he gobbled up every shot and rarely gave the Blues a second look on anything.
Minnesota would strike first midway through the 1st on a failed clearing attempt by the Blues off of a won face-off in their own zone which just CAN NOT HAPPEN!
The worst part of this, aside from the obvious turnover, is the fact that the Blues were controlling the flow of the game up to this point. Pucks were getting out of the zone quickly, they were getting good looks on Dubnyk and they weren’t taking penalties. In fact, the Blues had a chance to jump right back into the game just 30 seconds after the opening goal when the Wild were called for a cross checking penalty.
The Wild’s pressure on the penalty kill was a bit too much for the Blues to handle on the power play and they were only able to muster one shot with the man advantage. As the period ended the Blues started to swing the momentum back in their direction and despite trailing 1-0 they had the edge in shots 16-9 and overall played a better period.
Any momentum the Blues secured at the end of the period was wiped out early in the second when the Blues took back to back penalties, giving Minnesota a chance to blow the game open. First came the a Too Many Men on the Ice penalty, the sixth on the year; and just as that penalty expired Paul Stastny was sent off for tripping giving the Wild essentially a 4 minute man advantage.
Jake Allen came up large on the kills, no more so then when he was able to go post to post to rob Charlie Coyle off a nice feed from Eric Staal. Shortly after the extended kill Stastny made amends for his transgression off a smart change by Ty Rattie and a heads up pass from David Perron.
Perron would extend his point streak to seven games with the assist, tying a career high. The Minnesota bench hounded the refs to call Rattie for a penalty leading up to the goal but it was to no avail. The Wild, though, would put it behind them quickly and another broken play would lead to an unfortunate goal.
This play had a few crazy bounces but Robby Fabbri can’t lose his man going to the net especially if there is no back up. Allen really didn’t have a chance on the puck after it redirected off the post. The Wild were firmly in control at this point and held an 8-3 lead in shots but the Blues have shown a resiliency of late and they reapplied the pressure shortly after.
Dmitrij Jaskin had a glorious chance after a shot from the point found its way near his stick in front of a wide open net but Jason Pominville was able to sweep it away before it could be tapped in. The Blues would continue to fire rubber at Dubnyk and he just kept standing taller and taller in net. Just like the first period the Blues lead in the shot category but trailed on the scoreboard.
Fatigued seemed to catch up with Minnesota at the start of the third as the Blues came out firing. The Wild started to get hemmed in their own zone and that lack of getting out of the zone led to the Blues tying goal.
The Blues had been trying all night to get Dubnyk out of position and put shots on from different angles and it finally paid off. This shot was going well wide and the quick , soft hands of Schwartz were able to feather the puck home. But wait, the Schwartz was with us again just a short time later.
Marco Scandella took an ill-advised holding penalty 45 seconds after the tying goal and the Blues didn’t waste any time netting the go-ahead goal.
The two Schwartz goals came just 1:03 apart and got Scotttrade Center rocking on a chilly Saturday night. After the way the team had been playing they deserved to get the lead in the game but could they hold on?
For the most part it would seem like they would, they would continue to put pressure on in the offensive zone including a Schwartz breakaway that Dubnyk turned aside denying him the Hat Trick. With time winding down and Dubnyk pulled, Vladimir Tarasenko would ice the puck leading to a defensive zone face-off.
After a time out by the Blues to rest their tired line, the Wild would strike with their hottest line.
Charlie Coyle would take the team lead with the goal and it was his third in the last two games after scoring two against Pittsburgh last night. Just like the Huala goal a Blues player lost his man for just a second and it cost them, this time it was Tarasenko losing Coyle. With Minnesota trailing the Blues by just a point in the standings it was a bitter pill to swallow giving this team a free point.
In the overtime both teams had high probability chances. Off the face-off the Blues created a two on one and Stastny got the puck alone in front of the net but Dubnyk denied him. In the Blues zone a defensive zone turnover in the middle of the ice gasve Jason Zucker a chance in the slot but Allen came up with a giant glove save. With both goaltenders on their game tonight it was evident we would hit a shootout.
Each teams first three shooters were all denied pretty easily as both Allen and Dubnyk weren’t giving any ground to the shooters. Up fourth, Perron decided to eschew any fancy moves, I know I know odd for him, and just fired it five-hole on Dubnyk to give the Blues a chance at the win. Allen was able to poke check Granlund and just like that the Blues had won their fourth straight home game.
After a long stretch of consecutive periods collecting a penalty the Blues were able to avoid the box in two of the three periods and overtime tonight. The penalty kill held up its end by killing off the two penalties they did take and the power play chipped in a goal as well.
The 5 game homestand got off to a great start despite being the second home game to see the visitors score more than two goals. The Blues will back at it again Monday against Dallas.
#3 - Devan Dubnyk: Stopped 35 shots and kept Minnesota in it with multiple timely saves
#2 - David Perron: Extends point streak to career high 7 games
#1 - JJaden Schwartz: Two goals in 1:03 span