Friday, October 21, 2011

D'Agostini OT goal caps comeback win over Carolina

Blues trailed 2-0 in game, snap two-game
slide; Elliott, penalty kill fuel fire for game-winner

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues were down two goals and staring a third straight defeat in the face. But a team in search of a desperate victory, oiled its gears and got the motor rolling in the right direction.

Matt D'Agostini's third goal of the season with 1 minute 2 seconds remaining in overtime enabled the Blues to overcome a two-goal deficit and rally past the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 Friday night before the 44th straight sellout at Scottrade Center.
(Getty Images)
The Blues' Matt D'Agostini (left) and Carlo Colaiacovo celebrate
D'Agostini's goal in overtime that gave the Blues a 3-2 win over the
Carolina Hurricanes Friday night.

D'Agostini redirected in a perfectly slotted pass from Vladimir Sobotka and redirected it past Carolina's Cam Ward to cap a comeback in which the Blues (3-4-0) trailed 2-0 early in the second period.

"I just sat in front of the net, Petro made a good play at the blue line to keep it down low," D'Agostini said. "I think one of their forwards jumped on the play thinking they can get a rush.

"Sobe just made a great pass right on my stick and I just steered it in."

The Blues, who came into the game last in both penalty kill (they allowed seven goals on 22 chances) and on the power play (they were 1-for-24 on the season) and had a starting goaltender (Jaroslav Halak) that has lost his confidence and struggling himself (Halak is 1-4 with a 3.47 goals-against average with a league-worst .835 save percentage among starting goalies).

But the Blues got huge pick-me-ups from backup Brian Elliott (27 saves) and their penalty kill (2-for-2 in the game), which killed off a huge penalty in overtime that gave Carolina (3-2-2) a 4-on-3 advantage.

"(The penalty kill) hasn't been something that we've hung our hat on to this point this year," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "Our guys are working, our guys are pushing, our guys are getting better and those three guys ... each unit and the goaltender got us a huge kill there. Huge for our team, huge for our chance to get that third goal."

Elliott, who is 2-0 on the season with a 2.08 GAA and .930 save percentage, had some help from the hockey gods when Eric Staal missed an easy slam dunk at the side of the net in the third period, but Elliott did come up with an incredible reflex stop after a puck caromed off the chest of teammate Alex Pietrangelo and nearly into the Blues' goal in the overtime.

"I don't know if it was going over the top of the net or what," Elliott said. "I just kind of reacted when I saw it go off Petro's chest there. Luckily it goes in the glove instead of in the net.

"There has to be (a sense of desperation) every night. That's how you become a winning team. Having that desperation and that will to do anything to win, that's how teams go deep."

The Blues fell behind 2-0 when Jay Harrison and Brandon Sutter scored goals for the Canes. Harrison's goal came in the first period on a screed shot from the right point and Sutter scored 1:33 into the second period on a breakaway.

But instead of wilting like they did in a distressing 5-0 loss at Los Angeles Tuesday, the Blues found their game and had arguably their best period of the season when they outshot Carolina 20-12.
(Getty Images)
The Blues' Scott Nichol (left) tries to fend off Carolina's Tim Brent during
Friday's game at Scottrade Center.

"I don't know if we turned it around," said captain David Backes, whose goal with 3:51 left in the second period tied the game 2-2. "Rather than having that lapse that we've had in past games where the other team would get a push, that next line would push back and get the puck into their zone and make their defense go back for pucks, get right back on our game."

Jason Arnott got his third of the season and put the Blues on the board at 5:18 of the second period and snapped a goalless drought at 95:40. The goal got the Blues jumpstarted and sprung some life into a team that had a sense of desperation.

"Even in the first, I thought we were good," said D'Agostini. "We were down 2-0, but at the same time, I thought we were in the game and taking it to them at times.

"We stayed positive and calm and stuck with our game and it paid off in the end."

Said Payne, "We didn't get the start, didn't get the lead until the very end. But we felt if we stuck to our game long enough, kept applying pressure to the blue paint, we'd get what we needed. Two-zip, we ended up putting 20 shots on the board (in the second period), come out of that period tied with a chance to go out and win a hockey game. Good job by our club."

Carolina was going for four in a row but succumbed to a team needing a win.

"It was pretty much like that all night," Canes center Jeff Skinner said. "It's tough. They played a good game.

"You want to stick with it. I thought we played a gritty game. We got away from it for their two goals. But the bottom line, I think we played a gritty game on the road."

* NOTES -- Brothers Chris Stewart (Blues) and Anthony Stewart (Hurricanes), facing each other for the first time, did not factor into the scoring. ... The Blues welcomed back defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo, who missed the previous five games with a concussion. ... Forward Andy McDonald (concussion) missed his fourth straight game. ... Blues scratches included defensemen Nikita Nikitin and Taylor Chorney along with forward Ryan Reaves.

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