Saturday, October 2, 2010

Crombeen OT winner gives Blues 4-3 victory

Strong second and third periods propelled comeback from
2-0 deficit; team wraps up preseason slate Sunday in Chicago

ST. LOUIS -- Some old habits of yesteryear have crept into the Blues' game in the past couple preseason games.

However, that's why this is the preseason, and there are opportunities to clean things up. But if the Blues are to have any type of success this year, they need to get these slow starts out of their system.

That was a problem once again here Saturday night against the Dallas Stars, but one positive aspect for the Blues is a comeback ability -- although they'd rather not make a habit out of it.

B.J. Crombeen's wrister from the high slot with 2 minutes 40 seconds left in overtime allowed the Blues to rally past the Dallas Stars, 4-3, at Scottrade Center.

The Blues (5-2), who conclude their preseason slate today at 5 p.m. in Chicago, fell behind 2-0 in the opening 20 minutes against a Stars team that took advantage of some poor decisions that led to penalties. The Stars (3-3) scored three times on the power play but the Blues were able to kick it into high gear in the second period before taking command in the final 20 minutes and overtime.

"We just talked in here as a group (between the first and second periods)," said Crombeen, who was waived by the Stars two seasons ago. "We know what we've got to do in here to be successful. In the last two games, we haven't done it in the first period. That's up to no one but ourselves. We've got to put the onus on ourselves to be ready to go from that first drop of the puck. We weren't moving out feet. We were chasing the play."

The Blues, who were outshot 9-1 at one point in the first period, saw Dallas score twice -- once with a two-man advantage -- but then turned the tables by getting the pucks in deep, getting shots from the point and driving the net. The Blues outshot the Stars 12-1 in the second.

"We got away from the cute game that we were trying to play," forward David Backes said. "They were playing hard from the drop and were outshooting us 9-1 at one point. It was time to start getting pucks in to better spots."

After getting three third-period goals from David Perron, Brad Boyes and T.J. Oshie, Crombeen skated into the slot and was able to fire a wrister over the glove hand of goalie Andrew Raycroft.

"That's not my primary role to go out and score overtime goals," Crombeen said with a laugh. "I just try to go out and play hard every night and I think everyone on this team wants to contribute offensively and defensively. I think that's what's going to make our team a very good, competitive team.

"Usually in four-on-four, you have a little bit more ice out there, but Jay (McClement) did a great job pushing their D and the forward back there. I was lucky to be able to get to the middle and try to have a lane to get it to the net. That's exactly what I did. I tried to get by the that D-man and throw it on net. I don't know if he was screened by the D-man and found that hole."

The Blues had their collective fires lit after a crushing hit from Backes on Dallas' Jamie Benn, then saw Roman Polak pummel former Blue Jeff Woywitka.

"It's a change of pace," Backes said of his hit. "They were definitely taking the physical play to us and winning all the battles. It's part of my game that I need to establish. My line's not huge around me, but I need to create a little space around my linemates and teammates. I thought it was pretty clean."

Blues coach Davis Payne said he likes his team's comeback ability and thought the team progressively for better when the second period began.

"I thought we played a pretty solid second period, but Lehtonen was pretty strong in that period," Payne said.

The Blues were pretty strong in overtime, even before Crombeen's winner. But the Blues' third-line winger certainly was all smiles after the game.

"... He's got a pretty big, toothless smile on him tonight," Backes joked, referring to Crombeen.

* NOTES -- The hip-flexor bug has hit the Blues. Carlo Colaiacovo has been out eight days since suffering a hip-flexor injury against Minnesota on Sept. 24. Forward Andy McDonald, who was bothered by a hip-flexor strain early in the week, left the game Saturday with 6:25 remaining in the second after re-aggravating the same injury. And defenseman Erik Johnson, who was originally in the lineup Saturday, was held out and replaced by Polak because of a hip-flexor injury of his own.

"You hope it's nothing catchy," Payne said. "These guys have worked hard, and skating is a movement that involves that. These things can happen."

Colaiacovo is on target to begin skating later in the week, while McDonald and Johnson will be reevaluated Sunday.

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