St. Louis 7-0-2 last nine at home, take two points despite giving up
lead late in third; Schwartz scores twice, Allen five wins in past five starts
ST. LOUIS -- They got down when they felt like they could have been leading, then fought back to get the lead in the third before giving it up late, it was a mixed bag of emotions for the Blues on Saturday night.
But David Perron alleviated some of those "what might have been" feelings of coughing up a late third-period lead when he scored the lone goal in the fourth round of the shootout in a 4-3 victory against the Minnesota Wild before 19,396 at Scottrade Center.
|(St. Louis Blues photo)|
Blues center Paul Stastny (26) shoots and scores the first goal for St. Louis
past Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon on Saturday in a 4-3 shootout win.
The Blues (12-7-3), who have won four straight at home and have points in nine in a row at Scottrade Center (7-0-2), got two third-period goals from Jaden Schwartz only to see Minnesota (11-7-3) get a tying goal from Charlie Coyle with 1:08 remaining and goalie Devan Dubnyk pulled.
But the Blues managed to salvage the second point and pending Chicago's late game at Los Angeles, pulled to within three points of the Blackhawks for first in the Central Division and move two points past the Wild (11-7-3).
Paul Stastny scored for St. Louis (12-7-3), which is 9-1-2 overall at Scottrade Center.
"It would have been nice to close it out in regulation, team chasing us, too, you give them an extra point, but we’ll take the two points," Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo said. "Yeah, I mean we’ve been pretty good this year (6-on-5) but it’s gonna happen, but again, we didn’t want to give them a point but good teams find a way to win and we did that in the shootout."
Perron, who had two assists to extend his point streak to seven games (two goals, eight assists) and tied a career-high (also done Feb. 7-18, 2012), beat Dubnyk five-hole after both Dubnyk and Blues goalie Jake Allen, who is 7-0-2 at home this season, thwarted three shooters on each side. Allen has won five straight decisions and allowed more than two goals at home for the first time this season.
"Yeah he was staying low but he was recovering pretty quickly," Perron said of Dubnyk. "Just saw the other guys go and actually on the way down was thinking backhand like I like to do and then I don’t know, I tried something different and it went in."
After Perron scored, Allen, who made 28 saves, poke-checked the puck off Mikael Granlund, who made a bid to extend the game but couldn't.
"I think it was only our second shootout of the year and that’s the way it goes," Allen said. "Sometimes they go 4-for-4, sometimes they go 0-for-4 and when we have a chance to win, I want to put the nail in the coffin just like a player would and I’m glad we got it done."
Mikko Koivu had a goal and an assist, and Erik Haula scored for the Wild, who got 35 saves from Dubnyk.
"Anytime you can pull a goalie and get a goal, I think it makes you feel a little bit better," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Obviously you don't like to give up a lead in the third period, but we got a point on a tough week in a tough building so will take that right now."
Down 2-1, Schwartz tied the game 2-2 on a redirection of Perron's shot at 3:27 of the third, and then put the Blues ahead 3-2 with a power-play goal with a backhand from the slot at 4:30 following up Colton Parayko's shot from the point that created traffic in front.
"I think I had my guy beat a little bit coming to the net and I think I saw 'Stas' was in front too, so I just tried to find a quiet area," Schwartz said of his first goal. "I seen he was one-timing it and just stick on ice, and it ended up going crossbar and down. It happened so fast, so it was kind of just a split reaction. I wasn't really expecting that or thinking that was going to happen."
"Did a nice job of moving up top quickly. I think 'Petro' hit 'Colt' and did a good job of getting it through. We had traffic and I think it hit a couple of skates, maybe a couple of sticks and it was just kind of laying there. I was just trying to get as much as I could on it."
"He's really on top of his game right now; he's really playing well," Hitchcock said of Schwartz. "It's really good to see. He's just tenacious. The skill level and the timing of everything, I'm really happy for him. He's put so much work into it and his level of determination is high. It's great to see."
Boudreau challenged the goal, claiming Dmitrij Jaskin interfered with Dubnyk, but video review showed Minnesota defenseman Ryan Suter caused Jaskin to contact Dubnyk.
"I just saw a quick replay on the Jumbotron," Schwartz said. "I think it was 'Jask' got pushed in a little bit, so those are dicey. I don't really know the rulebook on that, just hoping for the best. Like I said, I think it probably counted because he got pushed into the goalie a little bit."
"There was some goalie contact," Boudreau said. "It was iffy, but it's in the third period. The goal gave them the lead, so I mean to me, it was worth it, worth a gamble."
The Wild took a 1-0 lead when Koivu received a pass from Jason Zucker in the high slot and beat Allen with a wrist shot at 11:36 of the first period.
Stastny tied the game 1-1 when he scored off a pass from Perron at 7:41 of the second.
Haula put the Wild back in front 2-1 at 9:43 of the second when he scored off Jason Pominville's backhand pass.
But the Blues staged their comeback.
They had a chance to win it in overtime quickly, but Dubnyk stopped Stastny in tight 15 seconds into the extra frame before Allen's sprawling glove save on Zucker with 2:27 remaining in overtime after Schwartz's dangerous pass to Pietrangelo caromed off the Blues defenseman into the slot.
"Yeah, both guys made great big saves early," Hitchcock said. "Dubnyk made a great save on 'Stas' there, too.
"It was a heck of a hockey game. Really two teams, there was a big push. When we went up, they made a big push at us and then we made a big push to start the third period, which is two really good really hockey teams going at it. They're deep and we're deep also, so it's good. Any time you get points in the division, it's like gold right now. We've got to keep this going."
The Blues outshot Minnesota 38-31 for the game, and couldn't close it out in regulation after Vladimir Tarasenko's icing led to an offensive zone draw, one Koivu won from Lehtera, and Coyle slammed home Eric Staal's wraparound.
"I look at the way we played in the third period and it was really good, and then I looked at the goal against," Hitchcock said. "We tried to soft-lob it, went all the way for icing; it's no big deal. Then we made coverage mistakes on the goal. Got too far away from our net with our forwards and the wrong people down low. We made some coverage mistakes, so that was a little bit alarming because we made three of them in the last four games like that."
|(St. Louis Blues photo)|
Blues right wing Ryan Reaves (75) levels the Wild's Tyler Graovac
with a check Saturday night at Scottrade Center.
The third-period push is indicative of how they've played at home.
"Well, I think we needed to get a little bit more zone time," Schwartz said. "I think when we had them on their heels and put pressure on them, skated in-zone and created some zone time, we got some momentum with that ... and then a power-play goal. They brought a push there after we got our third one, and ended up going to a shootout, but Jake was good. We had a couple chances to make it 4-2 and missed, but overall it was a good third period, and we got close to 40 shots, so Dubnyk played good, too.
"Don't want that to happen (give up a late lead). Sometimes it does. We've had times where we scored 6-on-5. They had a push in the third period for a little bit there. We did a good job of responding and had a couple of chances in overtime, too. We just stuck with it. I think we're just focusing on ourselves and it's a big two points for us."
* NOTES -- Blues forward Alexander Steen (upper body) missed his fifth straight game. ... Defenseman Joel Edmundson (upper body) could return as early as next week after another day without restrictions practicing on Saturday. ... Blues prospect C.J. Yakimowicz, a 2014 sixth-round draft pick, was suspended indefinitely on Saturday after being ejected for abuse of an official during an Ontario Hockey League game playing for the Sudbury Wolves. According to The Sudbury Star, Yakimowicz appeared to strike a linesman during a scuffle with Niagara's Aaron Haydon during a game on Friday night. Yakimowicz faces a hearing with league officials on Monday. Here is a link to the story: http://www.thesudburystar.com/2016/11/26/three-more-wolves-suspended