Thursday, January 5, 2012

Third period rally propels Blues to 4-3 victory

Team trailed Oilers 3-1 entering final 20
minutes; Pietrangelo, Backes net goal, assist

ST. LOUIS -- Forget the mistakes. Forget the questionable calls. Forget the poor penalties taken. Forget the two-goal deficit.

The Blues somehow had to wipe the slate clean. Forget about the bad vibes.

This was a team they're supposed to beat. These were two points in the standings the Blues didn't want to look back on and say, 'Man, we could have used those!'

Just get an anemic power play going, get the home crowd revved up and play within your element.

The result was a 4-3 scintillating come-from-behind victory for the Blues Thursday night over the Edmonton Oilers before 18,428 delirious fans at Scottrade Center.

The Blues refused to lose, even when trailing after two in a league where second-period deficits are tough to overcome.

Matt D'Agostini capped a three-goal burst by the Blues in the third period.

It's the kind of win that builds character for a team trying to become one of the conference's elite teams, and the Blues (23-12-5) took the necessary step in that direction by outscoring the 16-21-3 Oilers 3-0 in the final 20 minutes to gain the win.
(Getty Images)
Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (27) works past Edmonton's Ryan
Smyth Thursday night at Scottrade Center.

"I'm still trying to figure out what the hell happened," marveled veteran coach Ken Hitchcock, who earned his 550th career victory.

St. Louis got a goal and an assist from each from Alex Pietrangelo and David Backes and Carlo Colaiacovo picked up three assists to match a career-high in points. Chris Stewart also scored and Jaroslav Halak stopped 29 shots for the Blues, who have the most home wins in the NHL with 16. They are now 16-3-2 on home ice. The Blues improved to 3-8-1 when trailing after two periods.

They did it with a power play that was anemic and ineffective for two periods and they did it by staying disciplined and not taking those unnecessary penalties that put them in a two-goal deficit in the first place.

"It unraveled in the second big time," Hitchcock said. "We grabbed it back at the intermission ... and then really played in the third. The first 12 minutes of the third, we really played. "

Added Colaiacovo, who picked up all three assists in the third period: "At the end of the day, we just knew we had to stay out of the box. We found ourselves playing out of our element in the second period, some questionable calls, but at the end of the day, they were calls and they made us pay for it.

"We came in, regrouped, we stayed out of the box and we made them pay for their penalties. We had the right guys stepping up in the third when it counted and when it meant the most. At the end of the day, it was a huge character win for us and we found a way to win."

The Oilers, who carried a 3-1 lead into the third period, got second-period goals from Taylor Hall, Ben Eager and Jordan Eberle. Devan Dubnyk stopped 33 shots but fell to 0-5-0 in his career against St. Louis.

The Oilers, trying to win for the third time in four games of a seven-game trip, were effective on the penalty kill through two periods, going 4-for-4. But when Corey Potter took a delay of game penalty 17 seconds into the third and Pietrangelo was scoring three seconds later, the crowd of 18,428 got back into it and momentum shifted heavily.

"We've got to penalty kill," Oilers coach Tom Renney said. "That's been pretty good this year.

"We needed it to be great tonight and it just missed."

The Blues needed less than two minutes of the third period to overcome the 3-1 deficit. Pietrangelo on a one-timer from the left point 20 seconds into the period and Backes tipped in another one-timer from Pietrangelo at 1:48 to tie the game at 3-3.

"We just simplified it," Pietrangelo said of the power play. "We were trying to be a little too cute with it there in the second period, trying to make too many plays and just got back to shooting the puck.

"It's good for us to face a little adversity in the second. It's certainly not the way we wanted to play. To come back and play like we did in the third, it just shows what we're capable of. ... Maybe too many penalties obviously there in the second, but to come back and win shows a lot of character."

Then it was D'Agostini's turn. He circled the Oilers' goal and rifled a shot through a screen past Dubnyk, off the right post and in at 8:59.

"I just saw a lane through the first guy, who was kind of checking me," D'Agostini said. "I just tried to get it through him, get it to the net area. I went top corner and thanks to the traffic in front, both (T.J. Oshie) and (Patrik Berglund) were both there getting in the goalie's eyes and it found its way in."

The Blues led 1-0 after one period before getting themselves into penalty trouble in the second. Edmonton spent 11 of the 20 minutes on the power play -- including five during a slashing major to Roman Polak, who also received a game misconduct. They led after Stewart's goal off a turnover in the first but it all unraveled momentarily.

Hall tied the game 1-1 after a faceoff win and a shot from the point 5:12 into the second period. Eager tied it 15 seconds later on a turnover in the Blues' zone and a fluky goal on a shot from the right half wall that somehow got past Halak, who looked discombobulated on the play.

The Oilers went ahead 3-1 six seconds after the Blues killed off Polak's major but were down two men for too many men on the ice. Eberle's one-timer from the left circle off Sam Gagner's feed beat Halak at 13:54.

It was a period the Blues had to forget. Or else it could have gotten really ugly in the third period.

"Just forget about it and move on," Pietrangelo said. "We've got 20 minutes to play. You can't dwell on it. It's just going to make you dig into a deeper hole. I thought we did that, certainly drawing a penalty there early and answering the call."

The momentum the Oilers got was certainly short-lived.

"That's a game we need to win and we should win," Dubnyk said. "We talked about it before we go into the third period that (the officials) will probably make some calls against us. The funny thing is neither of those penalties were make-up calls.

"... It's so frustrating to start (a period) like that. I don't know what else to say."
(Getty Images)
Blues players David Perron (57) Alex Pietrangelo (middle) and Carlo
Colaiacovo celebrate a third-period goal. The Blues overcame a 3-1 hole
to down Edmonton 4-3.

The Blues certainly know.

"At the end of the day, a win's a win, but when you find a way to win like this, it's huge," Colaiacovo said. "It makes you believe that you're a great team. It makes you believe that when you play the way you're supposed to play, good things happen."

Added D'Agostini: "It was wild. We stay even-strength with those guys in the third period and really took it to them. We built a lot of character with that win.

"When we play our best, there's not a lot of teams that can keep up with us when we play like that."

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