Blues Bounce Back with Another Come From Behind OT Win

Jaden Schwartz and Matt Dumba battle for a puck behind the net Saturday night. (Jim Mone/AP photo)

GAME SUMMARY

Minnesota came out fast and furious looking to continue their hot home-ice streak which has seen them go 3-1 in the Xcel Energy Center. Yet, their season has been a tale of two teams as they are still winless against central division opponents going 0-7 to this point.

The Wild had the first five shots on goal and got one past Jake Allen on a tipped shot from the slot off the blade of Marcus Foligno.

The Blues countered with Mackenzie MacEachern’s first goal of the season a couple of minutes later, and then Carl Gunnarsson’s first goal put the Blues up 2-1 to close out the first.

Goals by Kevin Fiala and Mats Zuccarello gave the Wild the lead early in the second. The Blues looked tired throughout the middle frame and couldn’t manage any real offensive threat.

As has been their modus operandi throughout the early season, the Blues mounted their comeback charge and got a goal from Sammy Blais to knot things up. That’s how regulation would end and for the second night in a row, the Blues took it to overtime.

Tonight it was Ryan O’Reilly with the game-winner about halfway through the extra time. The win moved the Blues to 9-3-3 and kept them in first place in the division.

FIRST PERIOD

It was easy to tell which team was fresh and which team was on the tail end of a back-to-back weekend. The Wild had not played since their game in St. Louis on Wednesday night. St. Louis, on the other hand, played Columbus on Friday night.

The Wild looked fresher and faster than the Blues, and before you knew it they had six shots on goal to the Blues’ none, and a goal from Foligno for a 1-0 lead just 2:26 in. The shot was a bang-bang play as Foligno raced into the slot in front of Jake Allen. The puck was on his stick and off it so fast. Allen had very little time to react and it beat him high on the glove side.

The Blues fought back and at the 4:00 minute mark Mackenzie MacEachern batted in his first goal of the season to tie the game at 1-1.

Carl Gunnarsson added to the lead when his close-range shot from a sharp angle near the goal line somehow found it’s way past the behemoth netminder, Devan Dubnyk.

Each team had a powerplay opportunity in the first, but neither team capitalized and the Blues, despite being outshot 10-6 in the period, took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.

SECOND PERIOD

It looked like the tide completely turned for Minnesota in the second.

First, off a faceoff in the Blues zone, a shot from the half-boards by Kevin Fiala found it’s way through 4 players and then under Allen’s pads to tie the game. It was an unusual time and place for a player to shoot the puck from, but besides possibly being screened and not seeing the puck, it just looked like it caught Jake totally off guard. The game was tied 2-2.

Vince Dunn was mixing it up all night and was called for slashing at the 3:10 mark of the second period. The Wild were strong on the powerplay and kept the puck in the Blues zone for an extended time. At one point, two Blues were without sticks and it led to a goal from Mats Zuccarello into a wide-open net as Allen was caught off his skates on the other side. A diving Allen was not going to stop the puck with all the space Zuccarello had. The Wild led 3-2.

Although the Blues outshot the Wild in the middle frame 12-6, it seemed like everything was going Minnesota’s way as they scored again to make it 4-2 on a deflection by Zach Parise. Replays, however, showed Parise elbowing Jake Allen in the head just as he shifted his stick to deflect the puck. The Blues challenged the goal for goalie interference. The overhead shot was the telling angle that officials must have used to decide the challenge. The goal was taken away and the Blues seemed to breathe new life.

THIRD PERIOD

At the 6:05 mark of the third, Sammy Blais notched his 5th goal of the year on assists from Tyler Bozak and Justin Faulk.

Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau was livid after the goal was overturned in the 2nd. GIF files created on Twitter had him clearly saying “I’m f’n done!” But, he wasn’t done. The goal by Blais was preceded by some contact behind the net where Blais pushed a player down before receiving the puck and putting it in the net. A bench minor was called on Boudreau and the Blues powerplay had a chance to grab the lead.

They couldn’t capitalize on the powerplay and were 0/3 on the night. Both teams scrapped to get the game into overtime.

OVERTIME

The Blues won the faceoff and largely controlled the puck, making several changes as things rolled along. At the 2:27 mark, the trio of David Perron, Alex Pietrangelo, and Ryan O’Reilly took their turn. However, O’Reilly was the only one of the trio to touch the puck. He loaded up and wristed one past Dubnyk for the game-winner. Robert Thomas and Vince Dunn were credited with the assists as they were on the ice prior to Perron and Pietrangelo getting involved. All that matters is that the Blues scored and won the game.

POSTGAME

Jake Allen picked up the win to move him into second place for all-time wins as a Blues goaltender with 138. He passes Curtis Joseph and now sits 13 wins back of Mike Liut, who has 151. Congratulations to Jake!

Allen told the media after the game, “You know it wasn’t pretty at times tonight. But I thought that in the third period we really showed our true colors and battled back in the game. It was a big win for us as we go on this long road trip.”

For all the grief he takes from us fans, he has climbed to that second spot with 12 fewer games played than Joseph and is an unbelievable 79 fewer games played than Liut. If he remains a Blue for the rest of his contract, he will most certainly surpass Liut for all-time wins, even if he remains the backup to Jordan Binnington.

The game was the first of a four-game trip that will take them through western Canada to face Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary. Tonight was also the 2nd back-to-back in a string of five such ‘doubleheaders’ in a six-week stretch.

Sitting atop the Central Division with 21 pts, the Blues are now 9-3-3 after playing 15 games. Early in the season, they lost three games in overtime and/or a shootout. More recently, three of the last four games have been won in overtime and they’ve won four in a row.

Vancouver is 9-3-2, and Edmonton is 10-4-1. On a rare Tuesday-Wednesday back-to-backer, they’ll get a tough test with those two teams. Both games are on Fox Sports Midwest and the usual radio stations. The Tuesday night game is a 9 PM central time start. Wednesday is a 7:30 start. Let’s go Blues!

 

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