Vancouver, B.C. – The St. Louis Blues (10-3-3) finished off the Vancouver Canucks (9-3-3) in a another thrilling 2-1 overtime win. The Canucks, rolling hot with a 9-1-2 record in their last 12 games, looked to extend the winning streak, but fell short to St. Louis tonight. One of the biggest tests in the early season, the Blues relied heavily on Jordan Binnington early in the game, as he stopped all 12 shots in the first period.
New Blue Sammy Blais proved his time with Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron paid off in the second period when he fed Tyler Bozak for his first goal of the season. Binnington would stand on his head and pitch shutout hockey until the final 5 minutes of the game, when Vancouver phenom Quinn Hughes tied it on a wicked point shot. The Canucks forced overtime as St. Louis and Vancouver waged an all-out war on the ice for the remainder of regulation.
The end of the third period and all of overtime was complete high-octane madness with chances flowing from both sides of the ice. St. Louis came out on top in overtime, however, when all three Canucks players got caught behind the play, and Jaden Schwartz cashed in on a 3-on-0 breakaway to win, 2-1. The Blues took their 5th straight win and 4th straight overtime win to still remain atop the Central Division. They look to take first overall in the West as they head to Edmonton tomorrow night at 7pm CT.
The Blues knew how big of a test tonight would be, especially with Vancouver’s near perfect 4-0-1 record on home ice. Rising phenom Elias Pettersson registered 4 of the teams’ 5 shots on net early in the game before the Blues could register one. Jordan Binnington was focused and ready to play after having three days off, and stopped every shot that came his way.
After two successful penalty kills (one for a rare Closing Hand on the Puck penalty), St. Louis started to find their stride. Ryan O’Reilly nearly jammed the puck underneath Markstrom’s skate blade, but it wasn’t quite far enough to break the ice. Robert Thomas tried turning up the heat playing alongside the top line of Jaden Schwartz and Brayden Schenn, but ultimately, no one could find the back of the net after 20 minutes.
Parayko, Pietrangelo, and Perron were the only three skaters for St. Louis that registered shots the entire first period. St. Louis skated off a little dry on the offense, outshot 12-6, but left tied 0-0 thanks to Binnington’s great play early.
The second period saw both teams open up the ice, after some 4-on-4 hockey gave the players some breathing room. The Blues were now up to the task as the pace of the game started to ramp up. The best line of the night was Bozak, Steen and Blais, who stepped up to play St. Louis-style hockey throughout the night with forechecking down low and lots of offensive intensity. Sammy Blais in particular was finding his game all over the ice being slotted into the Blues third line. Blais was finally rewarded when he perfectly fed Tyler Bozak from down low.
Bozak’s first of the year gave the Blues the first lead of the game, 1-0, thanks to Blais and Alex Steen. The ice only got faster and faster as the period went on: St. Louis had their fair share of odd-man rushes while Vancouver registered some solid chances of their own that were either saved by Binnington or near-misses. The bounces played just enough in St. Louis’ favor as the second progressed, but the end-to-end action never quit for the remainder of the period. When the dust settled after 40, the St. Louis held onto the 1-0 lead in Vancouver, getting outshot 25-16 through two.
The third period slowed down after a full-throttle second, but that played right into the Blues style of play. Vancouver dinged the goalpost at the end of one of their powerplays, but the puck stayed out of Binnington’s cage. After an unsuccessful powerplay by the Blues, Vancouver started to find some momentum and landed some solid shots on Binnington.
Chaos shortly ensued as the game broke open again late in the third. The Canucks offensive possession was overwhelming, and heavy forechecking (and some broken sticks) lead to an eventual mass scramble in front of the Blues net. After over 55 minutes of shutout hockey, it was Quinn Hughes that finally tied the game for Vancouver.
The game was tied after some raucous sequences on both sides of the net. The physicality and cross-checks from both teams ran as high as the pace of the game late in regulation. A huge late push by the Blues fell just short as St. Louis would head to overtime for the fourth time in 5 games. The Blues were outshot the entirety of the game, 33-24.
The Canucks and Blues picked up right where they left off – a no-holds barred, all-out war back and forth on the ice. The Canucks continued to pepper Jordan Binnington, but he stood on his head as he had all night. Finally, nothing short of spectacular happened for St. Louis: Two Vancouver players tripped over each other behind the net and the Blues found themselves in a three-on-none breakaway with Schwartz, Pietrangelo, and Schenn. You can take a wild guess what happened next.
Schwartz’s unreal finish to the game saw St. Louis win their 4th game in overtime in a row, 2-1. Binnington was huge again in net, making 34 saves in the game against the 5th-highest scoring team in the league this season. The Blues were outshot and outhit heavily in the game, 34-27 and 29-16, but managed to grab another win.
Binnington, while playing out of his mind again, still recognizes the team process building for St. Louis. “These character wins are huge for us. At the same time, we gotta tighten up a little bit and keep working as a team, and I think it’ll come. We’re still building and it’s a long process, so we’re gonna stay with it and keep having fun and keep growing as a team.”
Schwartz, like a lot of fans, was at a loss for words after scoring a 3-on-0 breakaway goal to win the game. “I’m not even sure what happened… you don’t see that too often.”
The Blues got their fifth straight win to improve to 10-3-3 on the season and maintain 1st in the Central Division. They will look for first in the Western Conference tomorrow in a big game against the red-hot Edmonton Oilers at 7pm, while Vancouver visits the Blackhawks on Thursday. To catch tomorrow’s contest: Tune in to:
STL: FSMW, ESPN 101.1, Fox Sports GO, NHL.com
EDM: SN, CHED 630, NHL.com
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