Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Perron OT winner helps Blues top Stars 3-2

Playing without Pietrangelo, St. Louis rebounds 
after OT loss on Monday; Stastny hurt in third period

DALLAS -- Playing without their captain and leading minutes player, without their top center for mich of the third period and coming off an overtime home loss playing the second of back-to-back games, the Blues will take this road victory with pride and move on.

The Dallas Stars may have had a lot of the better play, but in the end, it was the Blues that came out victorious on David Perron's first career overtime goal with 3 minutes, 5 seconds remaining for a 3-2 victory Tuesday at American Airlines Center.

The Blues (18-11-5) played the game without Alex Pietrangelo, who fell ill and could not go, then Paul Stastny only played 2:15 in the third period with what coach Ken Hitchcock called an upper-body injury and after losing to Edmonton Monday on home ice in overtime facing a Dallas team that was well-rested, the Blues' win here comes with great satisfaction.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
The Blues' David Perron celebrates after scoring in overtime to help the
Blues defeat the Dallas Stars 3-2 on Tuesday.

"Yeah, that’s exactly what it was, an unselfish, gutty win," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "It wasn’t pretty. They were highly energized in the first period, but as the second period went on, we started to put really good minutes together. And then third period, I thought both teams were not wanting to make the first mistake, but I thought for the game we had yesterday and the emotional content that we’ve gone through, this is an impressive win."

Perron's eighth of the season came after he and Jaden Schwartz, who had a goal andf an assist, teamed up to win a board battle with the Stars' Esa Lindell and Radek Faksa. Perron knocked the puck away from Lindell, Schwartz collected it and got an edge to the net before being pulled down. A delayed penalty on Faksa was being called, but Perron picked up the puck, be curled around the goal and wrapped a shot into the near side past a Stars stick past Antti Niemi.

"Originally on the wall, he really stayed on his guy," Perron said of Schwartz. "I kind of left my guy a little bit to get on him. I kind of made the first touch on the puck and then 'Schwartzy' really battled his butt off to get the puck loose. I'm glad he realized I was behind him too because he could have swatted at it, maybe had a shot on net. I was able to kind of do my thing. It's tough. I kind of go around Niemi there and I'm thinking I might be able to wrap it short side, and then to leave and go to the other side -- it was a little bit risky. But I mean, I'm glad it went in. And like I just told 'Panger,' when it went in, I was like 'Is there a whistle that went on here?' The reaction for half a second was bizarre, but we'll take it and it was a big two points for us."

Schwartz didn't realize what transpired.

"I don't remember what happened," he said. "I think it was a 2-on-2 in the corner. Puck just squirted out and I thought I had a step on my guy and then I was falling over and then Perron did a good job coming in. I knew he as somewhere around me so I kind of left it for him and he just did his thing there.

"It's a big one for our club, big momentum booster, good character win. We did a lot of good things today, Jake (Allen) was good; he kept us in it the whole game. It was a hard win against a good team, who plays well in the their building. Guys got injured and stuff and we just stuck with it. We didn't change. We just played a hard game and didn't try anything fancy, just tried greasing one out."

Allen made 36 saves after allowing a tough first goal to Patrick Eaves.

"That’s my job," Allen said. "If I didn’t, game’s over. It’s pretty simple. I just wanted to give the boys a chance today and they played really hard for me. I had to do the same."

Patrik Berglund also scored for the Blues.

"Back to backs are always hard when you travel," Perron said. "I think we had good performances yesterday too and I think we played well yesterday and early in the first, the energy wasn't so much there. There was a couple tweaks in the lines, I think once we scored that first goal we really came on and we played even with them for the rest of the game. I think Jake was excellent to keep us in the game early."

The Stars jumped on top 1-0 on Eaves' 12th of the season, a power play goal at 7:04 of the first after Vladimir Tarasenko was called for a double-minor high-sticking Jiri Hudler. Eaves' shot from a sharp angle in the right circle squirted through Allen.

Schwartz tied it at 11:15 of the first with his 12th of the season when he followed up Paul Stastny's shot, a shot that caromed off the skate of Stars defenseman Johnny Oduya to Schwartz, who beat Niemi from the goal line. 

The Stars had the better of the play in the second and Spezza put Dallas ahead 2-1 with 1:29 remaining in the second, knocking in a Jiri Hudler shot that Allen stopped. But the Blues responded when Berglund scored his fourth in four games (he had 1 in the first 30) on a nifty backhand in the slot after Jay Bouwmeester's pass with 30.1 remaining in the period to tie it 2-2.

"Whatever the time is on the clock, when you tie it up, it's a big goal," Berglund said. "I'm really impressed about our third period this time on the road. I think we played hockey again there. We took all the way to overtime, but we got those two points.

"... I don't know what happened. I didn't have a shot on my forehand so I just turned around and tried to get (a) puck to the net. This time it went in. Really nice play (by Bouwmeester). He kept his head open and I was wide open in the slot there for a little while, so great play. We just tried to get pucks there to the net and good things happen."

The Blues, who were outshot at one point 25-8, finished the second with a bit of a flurry and finished the period with eight shots in the final 7:41 of the period.

"I think we had a bunch of good shifts at the end of the second period," Berglund said. "I feel like we took some air out of them. I feel like they were playing a good first period and the beginning of the second, but then we really came into the game and started to do the right things. It all starts when we get pucks in deep and when we get the pucks in, we forecheck well. That's where we get our chances from.We started to do that better and good things happened."

And when Berglund scored, it changed the complexion of how the Blues were going to tactically play the final 20 minutes.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
The Blues' Jaden Schwartz reaches for a puck past Dallas' Radek Faksa
after being pulled down before David Perron's OT winner on Tuesday.

"Yeah, you’re not chasing the game and having to open it up," Hitchcock said. "I thought we were forced to make some changes with the injuries during the game, and it actually worked for us because I think (Alexander) Steen going up with (Jori) Lehtera worked, and I thought Schwartz with Berglund worked in the third period, so there was some combinations that if we have to use them, we can use them again. We had a lot of contributors today. We needed it."

Hitchcock said Stastny will be evaluated over the next day or so. 

The Blues headed off for Tampa to play the Lightning on Thursday before having a four-day break for the Christmas holidays.

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