Storybook Ending to Blues Regular Season

St. Louis’ David Perron works the puck along the boards against Vancouver’s Luke Schenn (Bill Boyce/AP Photo)

ST. LOUIS, MO – In what couldn’t even have been imagined in all of the tales one could tell, the St. Louis Blues finished off their regular season with a storybook ending that saw them go from worst to first in the span of 45 games. Finding themselves in the absolute last spot in the league on January 2nd, the Blues went on to a record of 30-10-5 in the final 3 months. Their win over the Vancouver Canucks in the final game of the year catapulted them past Nashville and Winnipeg into first place in the Central division.

That status could change, depending on the result of Nashville vs Chicago and Winnipeg vs Arizona in their respective final regular season games later on tonight. But for now, the Blues hold first place.

There are several scenarios that could alter the final standings in the Central and we won’t try to cover them all here. It’s actually only the 3rd time in NHL history where 3 teams entered the final game of the regular season with a chance to win a division.

Today’s game would require overtime and a shootout to determine who would get the two points. Let’s get to some highlights.

FIRST PERIOD

Brayden Schenn opened the scoring for the Blues with a wrist shot that got through the 5-hole of the big rookie goaltender, Thatcher Demko. It was one of only a few mistakes Demko would make in the game as he proved to be a tough guy to get the puck past throughout most of the game.

Schenn’s goal was his 17th on the year and was the result of some crisp tape-to-tape passing by his linemates, Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O’Reilly.

There were no goals in the second period. The Blues outshot the Canucks 9-5 in the period after outshooting them 10-7 in the first.

THIRD PERIOD

The Blues nearly grabbed a 2-goal lead when Vladi hit the crossbar about 30 seconds into the final period. According to John Kelly on Fox Sports Midwest, it was the NHL leading 63rd goalpost/crossbar that the Blues have hit this season.

At the 2:34 mark Pat Maroon was called for tripping against Ben Hutton putting the Canucks on the power play. Tanner Pearson skated up the ice a little over halfway through the 2-minute power play and blew right through the St. Louis defense and beat Jordan Binnington 5-hole to knot the score at 1-1.

It remained tied until the 10:29 mark when Tarasenko got his 33rd goal of the season on a power play goal to put the Blues back on top 2-1. Vladi drew the penalty call on Alexander Edler when he crashed the net after a shot was stopped by Demko. As Vladi fought to get to the rebound, Edler had no choice but to hold him, creating the power play for St. Louis.


As the Blues tried to close things out and win in regulation, the Canucks would not go away. Robert Bortuzzo was called for a cross-check against Elias Pettersson putting Vancouver on the man advantage.

Pettersson scored at the 17:51 mark to tie the score at 2-2. It was Pettersson’s 28th goal of the season. He has put up some very impressive numbers as a rookie. In many people’s minds, he is the front-runner for the league’s Calder Trophy given to the most outstanding rookie.

OVERTIME

Both teams had chances early in the 5-minute overtime but the rookie goaltenders kept their teams in it. The Blues even had a 4-on-3 advantage for the final 1:29 of overtime after Bo Horvat was called for hooking on Tarasenko. With lots of pressure mounted by the Blues on the power play, Demko came up huge and forced it to a shootout.

O’Reilly scored a backhander over the glove side on Demko. David Perron got it through the legs of Demko on his attempt, but Jordan Binnington stopped shots from Pettersson and Brock Boesser on the other end to secure the win.

St. Louis will now sit and wait to see who their first-round opponent will be in playoffs. Look for more coverage of the NHL playoffs on BluesRants.com throughout the coming days.

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