Monday, December 30, 2013

Shattenkirk's OT goal seals Blues' 3-2 victory against Stars

Victory comes on heels of emotional home win against Chicago 24 hours earlier

DALLAS -- They opened the game with the lead they coveted, then withstood a Dallas Stars fury the Blues knew would be coming.

But in the end, with one crank from Kevin Shattenkirk's stick for the second time in as many games within a 24-hour span, the Blues were celebrating another victory.

Shattenkirk's power play goal with 10.4 seconds remaining in overtime gave the Blues a 3-2 overtime victory against the Stars Sunday night at American Airlines Center.

A night after rallying past the Chicago Blackhawks in a shootout on home ice, the Blues (26-7-5) were able to gut out a victory against a rested team that was 4-0-1 in its last five games and waiting for a tired, weary and shorthanded team missing another key piece (David Backes) despite getting back two more (Vladimir Sobotka and Derek Roy).
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Kevin Shattenkirk (left) celebrates with teammate Alex Pietrangelo after
scoring in overtime to give the Blues a 3-2 victory against the Dallas Stars.

Shattenkirk, who scored the shootout winner against the Blackhawks Saturday night, took Alex Pietrangelo's pass and rifled a shot past Kari Lehtonen after the Blues got a 4-on-3 power play after killing off an overtime power play.

"I really think we owed it to our penalty kill," Shattenkirk said. "... Tough call there on Oshie but we were able to deal with it.

"We came back and when we saw the opportunity that we had. We knew that it was our time to try and capitalize on it. We go out with the mentality that we're going to bury them (on the power play) and we did it twice tonight."

The Blues, already playing without injured players Alexander Steen (concussion), Roman Polak (ankle/foot), Jordan Leopold (hand) and Ryan Reaves (hand), had to make do without Backes (undisclosed, but likely related to the upper-body injury sustained last week after taking a hit late in the game against Chicago). But getting Sobotka (upper body) back after missing six games and Derek Roy (flu) back after he missed the Chicago game helped alleviate putting out a young and even more inexperienced lineup.

Sobotka paid immediate dividends with two assists, including the game-winner and stepping into Backes' role as top-line center between Jaden Schwartz and T.J. Oshie.

"'Sobe' did a lot of work with that (overtime penalty kill), he did a lot of work creating the (overtime) penalty and did obviously a great job on (Shattenkirk's) goal," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said.

The Blues also got goals from Jaden Schwartz and Oshie and Brian Elliott made 28 saves.

"I think it was a character win for us playing last night," Schwartz said. "... We kind of had a good grip at the start of the game, they kind of took it to us a little bit, but we battled back and found a way to win. I think that's huge for us. We battled through a few injuries so that's a big win for us."

It appeared the Blues would start the game down a goal just 25 seconds into the game, but Cody Eakin's goal was wiped out after the Stars' Ryan Garbutt was ruled to have made contact with Elliott.

Garbutt didn't take too kindly and was whistled for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Schwartz made Dallas pay with his fifth goal in as many games and 18th point in 17 games (10 goals, eight assists) when he slammed home a shot at the right post off a tic-tac-toe play from Sobotka and Oshie 2:41 into the game.

"He's got great patience," Schwartz said of Sobotka. "He holds onto the puck when he needs to and he can make plays along with playing all three zones. He's a fun guy to play with.

"It wasn't good losing 'Backs,' but it was a big jump for us, a big, positive leap getting him back in the lineup."

Vladimir Tarasenko had a great chance to give the Blues a 2-0 lead when he took a stretch pass from Shattenkirk and went in alone on Lehtonen, but the Stars' goalie kicked up the right pad to keep it a one-goal game 12:12 into the game.

The Blues began the second period scrambling in their own zone to start, but were able to get that 2-0 lead when Oshie stripped Stars defenseman Kevin Connauton of the puck along the left boards and snapped a shot high inside the near post from the left circle past Lehtonen 5:12 into the period. It was Oshie's first goal in 16 games dating back to Nov. 23 against Dallas.

It was the Blues' first shot of the period, but the Stars would respond and equalize the game with two goals in 3 minutes, 18 seconds.

Jamie Benn's power play goal cut the Blues' lead to 2-1 at 8:13 after Patrik Berglund was whistled for a high sticking penalty in the Dallas zone. Benn beat Brian Elliott with a high shot from the right circle.

Garbutt would get some retribution when he redirected Aaron Rome's shot from the left point through Elliott's pads at 11:31 on a screen shot to tie the game 2-2.

Lehtonen preserved the tie when he was able to rob Magnus Paajarvi with a right pad stop following a nice feed from Tarasenko with 6:14 left in the period.

Oshie was whistled for slashing Benn in overtime, but the Blues' penalty killing unit was not only able to keep the Stars (19-12-7) off the board but keep them shot-less.

"You get some momentum and then (Derek Roy) comes out and has a fantastic shift there 4-on-4," Pietrangelo said. "... It's a great momentum swing there killing that penalty."

Connauton was called for tripping with 35.5 seconds remaining, and the Blues knew if they could get a faceoff win and maintain the puck in the zone, there was the opportunity to win.

Pietrangelo got a pass from Sobotka and faked a shot to draw the three Stars penalty killers towards him before laying a perfect pass that Shattenkirk could lay into.

"Four-on-three, a lot of room there," Shattenkirk said. "Petro does a great job selling his shot and I think that freezes everyone and allows me to have the opening to shoot the puck.

Added Pietrangelo: "I had an opportunity in the middle of the ice. I saw Shatty drifting over. We kind of drew that up before. They gave him some space. It was an unbelievable shot.

"With 35 seconds, that's a long time. ... You try and not panic with the time that's left."

Hitchcock was most pleased with the Blues' third period. Although they only generated four shots, the Blues were able to limit the Stars' speedy attack that was quite evident in the second period.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Brian Elliott (left) makes a save in front of Blues teammates Ian Cole (28) and
Barret Jackman Sunday in Dallas. The Blues won 3-2 in overtime.

"To come and play in an environment like this off back-to-back against a rested team, the third period for me was impressive," Hitchcock said. "We managed the game in the third period. We were outplayed in the second, but in the third, we managed the game properly and did a good job.

"(Coach Brad Shaw) shared (the defensemen's) ice time today. We didn't get caught overplaying guys. This is the most (Ian) Cole's played in the National Hockey League. He played (20:26) tonight. I just thought we got them so that we weren't tired going into the third period. We managed the ice time."

"It's a great win," Shattenkirk said. "In the second period, we looked a little lost, a little tired and overwhelmed. We did a great job of coming back in the third period. We knew we were still tied on the road. It's a great spot to be for an opposing team. We were just able to stick with it and work through some adversity there in the end and come up huge for the whole team."

* Morrow returns -- The Stars paid tribute to former captain Brenden Morrow, who returned as a visiting player to the AAC for the first time since he was traded after spending 13 seasons with the team that drafted him in the 25th in 1997.

Morrow, 34, served as Stars captain from 2006-13 and ranks fifth in franchise history in games (835) and eighth in points (528). The Stars gave him a brief video tribute and acknowledged him on the jumbo tron that brought applause from the 15,678 in attendance.

"It's odd coming in here on a bus, not sleeping in your bed, walking to a different locker room," Morrow said. "Everything was a little bit strange. You're used to being on the other side. At the other end for warm-ups, everything was a little bit strange. The different-colored jerseys, maybe that helped a little bit. It's a different green than I'm used to."

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