Saturday, February 11, 2012

Colaiacovo OT goal nets win over Avalanche

Blues finally solve Varlamov with wrister, deflection on 44th
shot of game, climb within three points of Western Conference lead

ST. LOUIS -- It took a Patrik Berglund changeup to pinball in off multiple bodies, but in the end, the Blues got what they were looking for ... and for all intents and purposes, deserved.

Saturday's 3-2 overtime victory over the Colorado Avalanche was what the Blues were looking for. Anything less would have been disappointing.

After outshooting the Avs 44-19 and having a decisive edge in territorial play, the Blues were finally able to solve Semyon Varlamov.

Carlo Colaiacovo's deflection of a Berglund wrister from the high slot in overtime gave them the victory over the Avalanche at the Scottrade Center on Saturday night.

(Getty Images)
The Blues' David Perron (57) joins in the celebration with teammates
Patrik Berglund (second from left), Carlo Colaiacovo (middle), T.J. Oshie
(74) and Jamie Langenbrunner (right) after Colaiacovo's overtime goal in
a 3-2 win over Colorado Saturday night.

Colaiacovo's second goal of the season with 1:42 remaining beat Varlamov, who appeared to be screened on the play by his own teammates (former Blue Erik Johnson and Gabriel Landeskog) as well as Colaiacovo, who somehow was able to get an elbow on a shot that appeared to first glance off Johnson, then Landeskog before hitting Colaiacovo and finding the back of the net on the Blues' 44th shot of the night.

"We had plus-40 shots. I think we took over the longer the game went," said Berglund, who had 10 points in his 10 games against the Avs. "I think it's real strong that we can win in OT and like we did in New Jersey (Thursday) winning in a shootout. They're really important points. We're happy."

So was Colaiacovo, who was stationed between the circles along the left faceoff circle as Berglund's wrister came through.

"I thought I had it at first because I felt it glance off my elbow," Colaiacovo said of his first goal in 38 games. "I was just in the middle celebrating then. I didn't really care who scored. I was just happy that it went in.

"I came in off the ice and was told that it did hit off me. Not a lot of chances tonight. I've been getting a lot of chances lately. I'm just happy one finally went in. It didn't take my stick to put it in and we'll see if it's a sign of things to come."

David Perron scored twice and added an assist for the Blues, who have an NHL-best 23 wins at home (23-3-4) and matched their home win total from a season ago. They are 15-0-3 in their last 18 home games. The Blues are also 25-0-0 when scoring three or more goals.

The Blues improved to 33-14-7, good for 73 points and only three behind Western Conference-leading Detroit with two games in hand.

"I'm proud that we stayed with it, especially in the third period," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "(The Avalanche) were in a defensive posture and we had to pump all the pucks in. We weren't going to get any odd-man rushes. I'm not even sure we got a 3-on-2 to be honest with you. They had people back all night. They were playing for points. We did what we had to do in the third period to keep the game going. I was real happy with what we did in the third period."

The Avalanche (28-25-4) picked up a point in the game and have 60, two points behind eighth place in the conference. They got goals from Shane O'Brien and Johnson.

"We gave it a good effort for three periods," said Johnson, who scored his first goal in 23 games to tie the game 2-2 late in the first period. "That's a good team over there that really wears you out."

It was a wide open first period, with all the goals coming in the first 20 minutes before Colaiacovo's winner in overtime.

The Avalanche struck first on O'Brien's second goal of the season and first in 29 games 10 minutes into the game. David Van Der Gulik won a faceoff in the Blues' zone with Berglund, got the puck back behind the left faceoff circle and O'Brien wired a shot through a lane over Brian Elliott's glove hand for a 1-0 Colorado lead.

That's when Perron struck twice for the Blues, his fourth and fifth goals in the last three games to give the Blues a 2-1 lead, both power-play goals.

Perron's eighth of the season tied the score 1-1 when he was able to power a shot by Varlamov at the left side of the net 12:12 into the game after getting a short feed from T.J. Oshie. Perron struck again with his team on a two-man advantage when he was able to snap a shot from between the circles past Varlamov with 3:43 left in the opening period.
(Getty Images)
Blues defenseman Roman Polak (right) and Colorado's David Jones battle
for a loose puck in front of goalie Brian Elliott Saturday night.

"It's just working hard and getting to the areas," Perron said of his streak of goals. "Guys are finding me. Sometimes they go in, sometimes they don't. Hopefully they keep going in because it's fun to score goals and help the team win."

The Blues came into the game 2-for-35 in their last 12 games on the power play.

"We talked about it (the power play)," Perron said. "Sometimes if you talk about it too much, it doesn't work. You've just got to let it be and play our game. Tonight we got two big goals on it."

But Johnson tied the game with a power play goal for the Avalanche after Scott Nichol was whistled for interference late in the first. Johnson's one-timer from the top of the left circle -- his first in 23 games -- beat Elliott high to the glove side with 51 seconds left in the period to tie the game 2-2.

"It's not the first and hopefully it's not the last," Johnson said of scoring against a team he played with for three-plus seasons. "It feels good."

The two teams combined for four goals in 9:09 over the last half of the first period.

The Blues had dominated much of the third period but a fortuitous bounce had Landeskog in alone in the slot, but Elliott flashed the mitt with 3:45 remaining that could have broken the 2-2 deadlock.

"There was kind of mis-communication there off the boards," said Elliott, who is now 18-5-2 on the season after a 17-save effort. "I have to make up for those mistakes and I'm glad I did tonight.

"It's tough to stay focused, but that happened the last time they played here, too. They waited for their opportunities and then they had a couple odd-man rushes. We did a great job breaking them up. Obviously scoring that one there at the end was big."

The Blues outshot Colorado by a combined 83-34 in the two games here at Scottrade Center.

"We'll take the win any way we can get it," said Blues forward T.J. Oshie, who had two assists in the game. "Sometimes it just comes from shooting the puck anywhere. ... I don't know how many shots we had tonight, but I think we had quite a bit. We got the traffic and the shot there."

Varlamov, playing only his fourth game in the last 15 outings, stopped 41 pucks in a losing effort.

"They're a really strong home team and their record shows it," Avalanche captain Milan Hejduk said of the Blues. "They're a hot team. This is not an easy building to play in."

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