Friday, March 10, 2017

Edmundson scores late in 4-3 win over Ducks

Goal comes with 19.8 seconds remaining to put Blues three points 
ahead of Los Angeles in wild card, two behind Nashville for third in division

ST. LOUIS -- When Robert Bortuzzo was asked about the impact he, fellow defenseman Joel Edmundson and fourth-line wing Ryan Reaves made in a 4-3 victory against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday, Bortuzzo had the line of the night.

"We were joking after the game, 'You're not going to see a board like that too often,'" Bortuzzo said of the whiteboard inside the Blues' locker room with the numbers 41, 75 and 6 written on it indicating those are the players media is waiting to interview.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Ryan Reaves scored a goal in helping the Blues defeat the Anaheim
Ducks 4-3 on Friday night at Scottrade Center.

"If you guys want to take a picture or something, go ahead."

The picture that will be played over and over was the shot and goal scored by Edmundson with 19.8 seconds remaining to snap a 3-3 tie.

The win for the Blues (34-27-5) moved them three points ahead of the Los Angeles Kings for the second wild card in the Western Conference and two points behind the Nashville Predators for third place in the Central Division.

Edmundson took a pass from Bortuzzo and buried a wrist shot past John Gibson.

"Me and Bortuzzo did a little regrouping," Edmundson said. "He rushed it all the way down to the corner and we made eye contact. He just sauced it across the ice and I was lucky enough to bury it.

"I think there was a bit of traffic from our boys and that's what we've been working on, so I just put it home."

Bortuzzo moved the puck along the right wall, avoided the check of Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm before sliding a pass to Edmundson, who was able to corral it, turn and wire his shot high glove side.

Bortuzzo said Paul Stastny, who was driving the net, was telling him to keep the puck.

"I think I just saw some space," Bortuzzo said. "I think 'Stas' was yelling, 'skate it' as opposed to just ripping it up to a guy standing still. So I took the ice and we were able to squeak by and make a play.

"... Once I got by the guy, I saw that we had three forwards at the net. Their forwards collapsed, so I figured there would be a spot open and like I said, Eddy's good at finding those little pockets and made an incredible shot. So it was big for our team."

And a reason why Edmundson and Bortuzzo were even on the ice together was the Blues had to play the third period without defenseman Colton Parayko.

Parayko was checked behind the Blues' goal with roughly 43 seconds remaining by Patrick Eaves. The play looked innocent enough, and Parayko was on the bench for almost half the third period but never played.

"We knew we had five 'D' going into the third period, so we knew we had to step up our game," Edmundson said. "I think the five of us did a good job. We played a little bit bigger role than we're used to, so I think it's good for us and hopefully (Parayko) gets back sooner rather than later."

Stastny and Vladimir Tarasenko each had a goal and assist, and Jake Allen, who improved to 5-0-0 lifetime against the Ducks, made 23 saves for the Blues, who won their third straight. 

"We knew that we needed everybody tonight," Blues coach Mike Yeo said. "There was parts of our game as far as coming back home were better, there was parts of our game that still we can improve on, some of the mistakes, some of the areas were going good and then we had a little bit of a letdown or we get a little casual with our play. I thought we did a much better job getting to the net, getting pucks to the net tonight. I thought we were tougher to defend in that area."

Rickard Rakell had a goal and an assist, and Chris Wagner and Jakob Silfverberg scored for the Ducks (35-23-10). Gibson, who missed the past six games with a lower-body injury and was not expected to play, made 31 saves.

"To lose the game with under twenty seconds to go, it's very disappointing on the road," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "We battled back in the hockey game and coming off a back-to-back where last night in Chicago and coming in here, this is going to be a tough game. So that's extremely disappointing. We didn't really get any reward. Even a point would have been a big difference immensely for us." 

Tarasenko scored 12 seconds into the first period to give the Blues a 1-0 lead on a quick snap shot past a screened Gibson.

The Ducks scored twice after Tarasenko’s goal to take a 2-1 lead.

Rakell tied it 1-1 at 11:59 of the first. The Ducks challenged there was no goaltender interference after the initial call was waved off when Corey Perry interfered with Allen.

But the Ducks challenged contending Perry was pushed into the goalie, and replays confirmed he was shoved by Jori Lehtera, but Perry's stick in Allen's midsection played no role in keeping Allen from making the save on Rakell's shot.

"I think the first one was interesting," Yeo said. "I know Corey Perry quite well from the years and he does a pretty good job always of finding a way to get involved with the goalie somehow. I looked at the replay, and certainly he was pushed in, but it's hard to argue that one."

Wagner put Anaheim ahead 2-1 at 18:12 after Jared Boll's pass deflected in off Wagner's skate.

The play developed in the Anaheim zone before an outlet pass into the neutral zone allowed the Ducks to move freely before Dmitrij Jaskin allowed his man (Wagner) to get to the net while Bortuzzo and Carl Gunnarsson backed up in the play.

"The second one in particular, that was a coverage issue and a breakdown," Yeo said.  

Ryan Reaves tied it 2-2 off a rebound of a shot by Jaden Schwartz at 4:17 of the second period after Schwartz, who was a plus-4 along with Stastny, made a cut inside and was falling to the ice before getting a shot off while Reaves was on the doorstep to pounce on the rebound at the end of his shift.

"Yeah, we're trying to go to the dirty areas a little bit more, so create the turnover ... I was supposed to change, but I figured I'd go plant myself in front and hope they got it to me and (Schwartz) made a nice play," Reaves said. "... I was gassed. It was either going in, or I was changing real quick."

Stastny scored 25 seconds into the third period to put the Blues on top 3-2.

Stastny pulled a move out of Tarasenko's basket and made a nice cut to the middle of the ice before sliding a shot past Gibson.

The Blues had a chance to go up 4-2 when Reaves, making another play to the net, was awarded the first penalty shot of his career but couldn't convert when Gibson poke-checked Reaves' backhand attempt.

"Yeah, I was trying to go five-hole but no dice," Reaves said. "(Gibson) had a nice poke-check. Actually 'Hutts' (Blues backup goalie Carter Hutton) has been doing that to me all season, so I should have been ready for it. 

"The crowd was too loud, I was going to do the 'Peyton Manning' quiet down. There was too much going on for me, that's not my element."

Instead of going up two, the Ducks tied it with 10:36 remaining on Silfverberg's power-play goal that came as a result of the Blues' first too-many-men penalty under Yeo. They were synonymous for doing it under Ken Hitchcock.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
The Blues' Dmitrij Jaskin (23) tries to fend off Ducks defenseman Cam
Fowler from the puck on Friday night at Scottrade Center.

Lehtera took a puck off Edmundson's stick to the face late in the game but was able to return.

The game-winner was good for the Blues in many ways, especially since it can help alleviate the tough way of losing 2-1 to the Florida Panthers on a goal with 4.6 seconds left on Feb. 20.

"Yeah, it was nice to go get that one back obviously in the last couple of seconds," Reaves said. "Great play by 'Bobbo' and a nice shot by Eddie.

"... It's crunch time right now, push time for the playoffs. Obviously teams are chasing us, we're chasing other teams. We need to get as many two-point games as we can right now."

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