Friday, January 6, 2012

Lessons are plenty from Blues' win over Oilers

Team ready to move forward as Colorado looms in another test

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- When Ken Hitchcock stepped to the podium for his post-game press conference following the Blues' wild 4-3 come-from-behind win over the Edmonton Oilers Thursday night, he wondered if his eyes deceived what he had just witnessed live.

It was that kind of a game.

And in light of watching video of a stellar first period, a second that went awry in a hurry and a comeback for the ages, Hitchcock summed it up best.
(Getty Images)
Chris Stewart (right) and teammate Roman Polak were all smiles after the
Blues rallied with three third-period goals in a 4-3 win over Edmonton.

Keep the score. Burn the scorecard. That's what we've decided to do," Hitchcock quipped Friday afternoon. "We've burnt the scorecard, we're moving forward to Colorado.

"There's no evidence of the scorecard. Lots to learn, but ... the first period was excellent and then after that, a lot of bizzareness to the game. A lot of energy but a lot of bizzareness."

It was a game that the Blues (23-12-5) dominated the first period by outshooting the Oilers (16-21-3) by a 14-3 count but only led 1-0. They then took reservations by the bushel in the friendly confines of the penalty box -- some deserved, some not. Edmonton took full advantage with a three-goal outburst and a 21-9 shot advantage -- of which 15 came off 11 minutes of power play time.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall when Hitchcock and the players aired out the locker room at intermission. If it was made-for-TV video, there would have been a lot of beeping going on and probably sensored to the fullest.

"It's embarassing. Twenty shots on goal is embarassing," Hitchcock said after an optional skate that was initially designed to be a full practice. "How are we going to deal with it? It's a new period. Come out, get the power play right away. ... If we don't score on that power play, it's probably a long night.

"The thing we talked about doing on the power play ... boom, it's in the net. Now they're on their heels and we're going. We really went for about 12 minutes there. We were really going."

Alex Pietrangelo buried a one-timer three ticks after Corey Potter's delay of game penalty 17 seconds into the third period. The Oilers blinked and the puck was past Devan Dubnyk in a flash.

Then came another power play goal ... this time David Backes redirected Pietrangelo's shot to tie the game 3-3 1:48 into the final period.

It was just a matter of time before the Blues got the lead ... and the game for good. Matt D'Agostini did the honors with a wicked shot from the left circle with 11:01 remaining.

"We come in and we were obviously a little frustrated, but I think we regrouped really well as a team," said center Patrik Berglund, who impressed his coach with another strong game. "Hitch came in and said a couple words, too.

"We executed on the PP, but we've got to stay out of the penalty box. We're a great 5-on-5 team (plus-18 in goal differential) that can wear a lot of teams down."

Added veteran Jamie Langenbrunner, who set up Chris Stewart's goal that gave the Blues a 1-0 first-period lead: "It's one hopefully we can look back and learn a few lessons ... playing a full 60 minutes and getting a little confidence that we can come back when we're not on our best game. Those are two stolen points, I guess you can say. Those are pretty valuable.

"Spending half the period in the penalty box is never a good thing, especially against a power play like they have. ... We're showing a little bit of character in doing that and a willingness to fight through some adversity. It was an interesting game to say the least."

After getting his 550th win to become the 11th head coach in NHL history to do so, Hitchcock was more than ready to move on.

"It was a tough game to maintain personal control," he said. "I was proud of myself. My ears weren't burning as bad as I thought they were."

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