Friday, November 28, 2014

Tarasenko OT goal saves 4-3 win against Oilers

Blues fought through to earn two points against bottom team in 
Western Conference; Oshie notches three points, Pietrangelo has goal, assist

ST. LOUIS -- It's been known for the Blues to bring out the best of both worlds during a game.

They can go from top to bottom and bottom to top all in one 60-minute (or 65 if overtime's needed) contest.

The Blues brought their A-game against the Edmonton Oilers in the first period  Friday night, then brought their F-game. It was a night where, as coach Ken Hitchcock would say, they would have to reel the game back in.

The Blues had the better of the opportunities -- and more of them -- against the Oilers on Friday night.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Vladimir Tarasenko (middle) is mobbed by teammates after scoring in
overtime Friday night in a 4-3 victory against the Edmonton Oilers.

The shot margin was 41-16 in favor of the Blues, who somehow found themselves having to work overtime to collect two points.

And against a desperate team looking to snap multiple skids, the Blues felt if they remained resilient, the result would play out in their favor.

Vladimir Tarasenko's goal with 39.4 seconds remaining in overtime gave the Blues a 4-3 victory against the Oilers before 17,666 at Scottrade Center. 

Tarasenko took a puck from Jori Lehtera, weaved through the middle of the ice before cutting past Oilers  defenseman Justin Schultz and fired a wrist shot on the short side past Oilers goaltender Ben Scrivens.

"I was waiting on a pass from Jori," said Tarasenko, who leads the team in goals with 13 and tied Alexander Steen with his third game-winning goal. It was his second game-winner in overtime.

"I know (Lehtera's) going to pass it to me," Tarasenko added. "It was kind of lucky because puck was bounding. I'm happy to have two points right now."

T.J. Oshie had a goal and two assists (the 10th time in his career he's had three or more points), Alex Pietrangelo had a goal and an assist and Kevin Shattenkirk scored for the Blues (15-6-2), who got 13 saves from Jake Allen.

"I liked our first and third," said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, who tied Mike Keenan for sixth place on the all-time coaching wins list with 672. "I liked a lot of guys in the first. I liked (Paul) Stastny's line in the first and I liked Stastny's line in the third. I didn't like anybody in the second period. We didn't manage the puck very well. We were too far ahead of the play and we've had that before. We had it on the road in Boston and in Montreal and it popped its head again. There were some people that really tried to grab the game in the third period and play the right way. In particular, Stastny's line started to really play the game the right way and it started to drag a few more people. [Patrik] Berglund played a good hockey game and started to manage the game properly. I think more and more guys got involved and managed the game properly."

The Oilers (6-14-4) are 0-11-3 against Western Conference foes this season and are on a nine-game winless streak (0-6-3). They were playing the second of back-to-back games after losing 1-0 in overtime against the Nashville Predators on Thursday. 

"This is an extremely hard and tough situation for everybody in our organization, from the players to the coaches to the managers, it is hard and it is painful and somewhere you have to believe that this is going to make you extremely resilient and tough down the road," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "Are you sitting there sometimes going, 'What is it going to take to get a bounce, to get a call, to get something in your favor,' and right now it doesn't seem like hockey wants to give that to us. Even on nights where we believe that we do deserve the break or that we've earned the break." 

Former Blues David Perron and Nikita Nikitin scored for the Oilers, Taylor Hall had two assists and Scrivens stopped 37 shots.

"I think we're getting what we deserve right now," Scrivens said. "I don’t think we're playing good enough to win in the NHL."

On their 14th shot of the period, the Blues took a 1-0 lead on Oshie's second of the season. After getting a drop pass from Tarasenko, Oshie stepped into a slap shot and beat Scrivens with a one-timer from the top of the right circle with 8 minutes, 25 seconds left in the first period. 

The Blues were buzzing all over the Oilers zone and outshot Edmonton 15-3 in the first period but only led 1-0.

"A lot of chances early," said Oshie, who doubled his season point total. "That first power play was the best two minutes that I’ve been on this year. A lot of chances. I think as a team we had a really good first period.

"Me and Shatty work on those every warm-ups. I was actually terrible at it today. I just got a hold of one and it was nice for it to go in. I felt bad skating away from my teammates though on the celebration."

But as thoroughly as the Blues dominated the first, the Oilers were only down one goal. Edmonton picked up the pace and was the better team in the second period. 

Perron tied the game 1-1 on a shot from between the circles 5:51 into the period after a defensive breakdown, and Nikitin came in and took a backdoor pass from Hall and snapped a one-time shot from the left circle past Allen with 3:14 left in the period. It was the Oilers' first lead in a game since defeating the New York Rangers on Nov. 9.

"Obviously the second wasn't out best in terms of how we wanted to manage the puck," said Pietrangelo, set a career high with 10 shots on goal. "We did a lot of good things offensively I thought. I thought we had a lot of opportunities. Defensively I think we didn’t skate as well as we needed to on coverage and with pucks. In the offensive zone, if you want the first and third periods, we had a lot of good opportunities."

The Blues didn't take too well being down after two periods, and Shattenkirk's shot from the blue line through a screen 31 seconds into the third period tied the game 2-2. 

David Backes’ forecheck behind the Edmonton goal freed the puck for Oshie, who fed Shattenkirk. He beat Scrivens as Oilers defenseman Jeff Petry screened his goalie. 

Arcobello gave the Oilers the lead at 3-2 when the Blues failed to clear the puck, and he beat Allen from the slot 3:55 into the third off a centering feed from Hall. 

Pietrangelo tied it with 7:35 remaining when he cleaned up Oshie's miss from right in front; beating Scrivens on the open side high into the net after the Blues had sustained pressure.

The Blues, who did not have to kill a penalty on the night, had the power play in overtime but were not able to solve Scrivens. 
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Alexander Steen (20) of the Blues tries to get past Edmonton's Andrew 
Ference during action Friday night at Scottrade Center.  

On the other end, Allen spent most of the night passing the time. Nine of the Oilers' 16 shots came in the second period, so the Blues' goalie was focused mostly on staying mentally sharp.

"That was the toughest game I’ve played in a long time," Allen said. "[Three] shots in the first. But the team has sort of nothing going right away and then they get a huge flurry of action. It is tough but it's no excuse. Definitely not my best game. The guys battled in front of me and helped me out and got me some goal support and came up with the win, which is a big thing right now. We’re just focusing on wins and however we can get them that’s the main thing."

Allen will get the start against the Minnesota Wild Saturday in Minnesota, and the light workload certainly helps in that regard.

"It's nice in that sense," he said. "We got the win and didn't get too many shots. It'll be a little easier tomorrow."

* NOTES -- Blues defenseman Barret Jackman left the game in the third period after blocking a shot. Jackman hobbled off the ice and remained on the bench. Afterwards, Hitchcock said Jackman had x-rays and they were negative and made the trip to Minnesota and should play. 

Forward Steve Ott left the game and did not accompany the team to Minnesota. Hitchcock said he sustained a groin pull and will be out "a couple days," According to the coach. Chris Porter will play in Ott's place Saturday night.

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