Blues Wrap Up Canada Trip in Calgary With OT Winner

Calgary, Alberta, CA- Vince Dunn and Sam Bennett collide in first period action Saturday. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press photo)

CONDENSED GAME

The Blues pulled off another overtime victory, this time over another top Western Conference opponent, the Calgary Flames. The win was their seventh in a row and wraps up their four-game road trip. They are now 12-3-3 and sit comfortably atop the division, five points clear of Colorado.

David Perron got another game-winning goal in overtime, something it seems like he does every other night. Ryan O’Reilly and Alex Pietrangelo picked up the assists on the play. The trio also combined for the Blues second goal of the game in the second period when O’Reilly scored his fifth of the season.

The Blues held Calgary scoreless through 2 1/2 periods, but couldn’t hold onto the lead to close it out in the third. Goals from St. Louis native, Matthew Tkachuk halfway through the period, and Travis Hamonic with just under four minutes left, tied the game and sent it to overtime.

Ivan Barbashev had the first goal of the game as his line was all over the ice in the early going. Oskar Sundqvist and Mackenzie MacEachern assisted and were a big factor in this game again tonight.

Jordan Binnington moves to 5-0-0 in his last five starts and stopped 27 of 29 shots faced. The Blues beat Calgary’s David Rittich, who was undefeated in his last four starts.

Next up, Arizona comes to town on Tuesday night.

FIRST PERIOD

The Blues struck first with a wrap-around goal from Ivan Barbashev just 3:17 into the first period. The sequence started with the swarming play of the fourth liners who were already skating their 3rd shift of the game in the early going. Mackenzie MacEachern got the puck into the zone and towards the net. Oskar Sundqvist kept the play alive near the goal crease before Barbashev corraled the puck behind the net and quickly slammed it in behind David Rittich for the 1-0 lead.

Most of Calgary’s chances came in the form of the power play in the opening period. St. Louis was whistled twice. Once for a tripping penalty to Zach Sanford at the 3:58 mark and later a boarding call on Brayden Schenn at the 9:42 mark. Despite the two opportunities with the man advantage, the Flames only managed one shot on goal in each of the two chances.

Their best scoring chance was a complete breakaway by Sean Monahan who skated in all alone on the St. Louis goal. Jordan Binnington stayed composed, backed into the net, and came up with the big save to keep the one-goal lead intact.

The St. Louis defense was clicking as the high-flying skaters for Calgary found it difficult to maneuver their way through the heavy pressure of the Blues in the opening period. Lots of back-checking and the strong forecheck employed by the Blues kept Calgary’s chances to a minimum. A change of strategy was needed if the Flames were to find more scoring chances.

SECOND PERIOD

The change in strategy employed by the Flames looked to be a more aggressive forecheck, but they seemed to tire of playing the St. Louis style of game. It didn’t produce any goals, and the Blues seemed to have no trouble breaking free of the pressure.

A high-sticking call on Mark Giordano at the 12:49 mark gave the Blues their third power play of the game and it didn’t take long for St. Louis to double their lead.

David Perron had the puck on the half boards and skated towards the slot. He nudged the puck over to Ryan O’Reilly who blasted the one-timer into the net past Rittich. Alex Pietrangelo got the 2nd assist on the goal.

THIRD PERIOD

Calgary is a third-period team. I believe I saw a statistic that they led the league in scoring in the final frame (I’m not sure about that, so don’t hold me to it). Whether they lead the league or not, they did manage to finally score two goals to tie the game and force extra time.

Their first goal came with just over nine minutes left in the game. Matthew Tkachuk managed to control a bouncing puck in the slot. He was surrounded by three Blues players, but still got a shot off and beat Jordan Binnington.

At the 15:39 mark, there was a scrum in front of the Calgary bench after Sam Bennett was called for charging against Mackenzie MacEachern. Oskar Sundqvist was also called for roughing on the play, which led to a four-on-four situation.

All night long, the smaller, quicker skaters of Calgary had tried without success, to dangle around the bigger Blues defense. What had yielded no fruit all night finally turned into something when Travis Hamonic got around everyone and backhanded a puck that was coming off the end boards past Binnington. The play looked like a bit of a miscue on the part of Colton Parayko and Binnington. No matter the fault, the game was tied.

The Blues had given up the most dangerous lead in hockey, a two-goal lead was now a tie game. Overtime was needed to settle the outcome.

OVERTIME

Calgary controlled the puck early in the extra time. Binnington made at least one nice save to keep it going. When St. Louis finally got their chance on offense, Jaden Schwartz charged hard into the offensive zone and drew a penalty when he was held up by TJ Brodie.

The Blues gained a man advantage and skated four on three. Once again, it was Perron who came through in the clutch with the game-winning goal at the 2:46 mark.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Credit to Calgary for fighting back and tying the game. I thought their smaller, faster skaters had trouble figuring out how to get the puck past the bigger defense of St. Louis. Watching Johnny Gaudreau at 5’9″ and 165 lbs trying to dangle the puck around Colton Parayko at 6’6″ and Jay Bouwmeester at 6’4″ looked like an effort in futility.

The Blues didn’t give them much room to make the plays that they are accustomed to making. Calgary coach, Bill Peters told the media after the game, “It was a hard-fought game. There was not a lot of free ice, not a lot of room.”

St. Louis coach Craig Berube picked up his 50th win as a Blues head coach. He becomes the 2nd fastest to that mark as the leader of the Blues. NHL story

The Blues powerplay continues to show improvement. They were two for five tonight, including the goal in overtime. Coming into the game they were 4th in the league with a 25.9% rate of success. Calgary’s penalty kill was 3rd in the league at 88.4%. So, against a strong penalty kill the Blues found a way to succeed with the man advantage and it was the difference in this game.

St. Louis will turn towards home where they face Arizona on Tuesday night, followed by a back-to-back affair over the weekend. They will play two more back-to-backs this month, but six of their ten remaining games in the month of November will be at home.

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