Saturday, December 15, 2018

O'Reilly's shorthanded OT goal caps 4-3 win for Blues

Parayko scores twice, Allen solid with 39 saves in game 
with another weird sequence, gives Blues second straight win

ST. LOUIS -- Ryan O'Reilly capped off a weird three-game home stretch for the Blues that had everyone scratching their heads.

O'Reilly's shorthanded overtime goal with 2:55 remaining capped the Blues' thrilling 4-3 win against the Colorado Avalanche at Enterprise Center on Friday.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Ryan O'Reilly (90) celebrates with teammates after scoring the OT goal to
help the Blues to a 4-3 win against Colorado on Friday at Enterprise Center.

O'Reilly scored on a breakaway, beating Avalanche goalie Philipp Grubauer after Robert Bortuzzo blocked Tyson Barrie's shot before pushing a backhand forward out of the zone for O'Reilly to burst onto the scene and go in alone.

It capped off the night for the Blues (12-14-4), who have won two in a row for the third time this season and they've beaten the Avalanche (17-9-6) twice in overtime this season.

"I didn't have eyes on the puck yet until I saw it at the center of the ice, and then I saw Barrie was kind of off-balance so I just took off," O'Reilly said. "... I got my full speed there and I'm thinking just make a move and elevate it there. The ice is kind of bad, so I'm just trying to settle it, make a quick play and get it up. It worked on that play.

"We showed good maturity tonight, resilience. It was an up-and-down game."

And now for the weird portion.

The Blues were shorthanded because Vladimir Tarasenko was called for using an illegal stick, when referee Kendrick Nicholson made the call that prohibits another player (Tarasenko) from going to pick up another player's stick (Parayko) when said player's stick is a special exemption stick for players that are 6-foot-6 or taller. Parayko's stick length is longer than the regulation size stick, so he's only authorized to use and play with it. Once Tarasenko, who handed his stick off to Parayko earlier in the shift after Parayko had his knocked out of his hands, he's not allowed to use it himself if given the opportunity to.

The rule confused the players, the coaching staff, those in the press box and the 16,366 in attendance, who immediately went into their chants of "ref you suck!" Only the officials knew what the call was.

"I thought we were going to go down the ice with wrong handed sticks, maybe," Parayko said, noting he's a righty and Tarasenko is a lefty. "I had no idea that was even a rule. I don't think any of us did. I was definitely telling him to get the stick. 

"I don't know, it's just weird ... we've had a couple of weird things lately in this building. Between puck going off the glass and in front of the net and off the ref and in. It's been a weird one. I guess it worked out in the end."

Blues interim coach Craig Berube offered his thoughts.

"Yes, you're allowed to pick it up," Berube said, "but you're not allowed to play the puck or defend with it.

"Yeah, it would be the length of the stick for Colton. A certain amount of guys have exemptions and you're not allowed to do that. So if it was somebody else's stick, say it was 'Schwartzy's stick, he can go pick it up and use it."

Yes, it's a head-scratcher, but the Blues were content they understood what the call was. 

The Blues, who got two goals from Parayko and one from Barbashev, and Jake Allen, after a slow start allowing two goals on eight shots, finished with a terrific performance with 39 saves.

The Blues have won two straight for just the third time this season and need a building block to gain a level of consistency.

"Yeah, I'd say so," said defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, who assisted on Barbashev's goal. "I think we're in a position where we need to win, it doesn't matter how or what it looks like. I don't think we've won two in a row in a while. We still know what our position is, but it starts with two and hopefully we can get another one on Sunday and we'll have a good road trip."

The Blues have shown that they can play with some of the game's best and own at least one against a number of them. They're 2-0-0 against the Avalanche, 1-1-0 against Nashville, 1-0-0 against Toronto, 1-2-1 against Winnipeg, 1-0-0 against Calgary, 2-0-0 against Vegas and 1-1-0 against the Sharks.

They're 9-7-2 against teams at the start of Friday that would be in the playoffs and 3-7-2 against non-playoff teams.

"We're believing in each other," Berube said. "We're starting to come around with our team game. We're understanding how we want to play. We've got a long way to go, we've got a lot of improving to do. We'll keep at it and keep improving."

This was one of those back-and-forth games that saw the Blues lead, Colorado take the lead and the Blues tie it in an open first period. 

Parayko gave the Blues a 3-2 lead at 11:00 of the third period as a power play expired, but J.T. Compher scored a power-play goal at 13:10 to tie it 3-3. It snapped the Blues' penalty kill streak at 23. The Blues killed five of six against an excellent power play.

"Penalty killing was excellent. It really was," Berube said. "We gave them too many chances on the power play. We've got to be better. We've got to stay out of the penalty box. Can't be taking these penalties."

But again, just like Tuesday when the Blues lost a 3-1 third-period lead, they didn't wilt.

"Yes and no. Yes in sense, we came back, held with it and got the win," Parayko said. "But not necessarily (a) hard no. It would be nice if we're able to push and not give them a third goal to tie it up, per se. If that's a legitimate answer. It's good that we stick with it and won but at same time if hold on get next one instead of letting them tie it up, it would be huge, but at the end of the day, we won."

Parayko scored to make it 1-0 at 3:24 of the first period, but Sven Andrighetto tied it 1-1 at 5:42.

"He's shooting the puck more," Berube said of Parayko. "We talked, I don't know how long ago, but he should be averaging five shots a game. He is actually up there (in shot count), so he's doing a good job of that. He can even shoot more. He's got a great shot and he sees that that's one of his best assets."

Matt Calvert scored with a backhand on a wraparound at 9:48 to give the Avalanche a 2-1 lead, a goal Allen would perhaps want back, but he certainly settled in.

Barbashev tied it 2-2 with 41 seconds remaining in the first period, converting a cross-crease pass from Bouwmeester.

"I just kind of threw it at the net," Bouwmeester said. "It was a good play by him because there wasn't really anything else. Go to the net and look what happens."

Allen made several key saves, but his only one in overtime, a one-timer from Barrie from the left circle, may have been his best.

"He's been phenomenal for us and fun to watch," Parayko said of Allen. "He's been great for us all season. We're just trying to do whatever we can to help him out."

But dare we say it: a winning streak. The Blues will look for a season-high third win in a row against red-hot Calgary to end their four-game homestand.

"To win two in a row is huge," O'Reilly said. "But we're still behind. We've got a lot of ground to cover and the next game's gonna be different. We have to prepare for that team in different ways. It's great to have the statements that we've had the last few games, so our work ethic and the way we're competing, we're staying resilient. So there's some things there, but we've gotta keep building it."

The week began with a goal scored on Allen against Vancouver that caromed off the back glass, back to the front of the net and off Allen's leg and in, Bortuzzo's dump-in got referee Tim Peel in the midsection before caroming into the net Tuesday against Florida, a goal that didn't count according to NHL rules, and now this.

"I had no idea," O'Reilly said. "I think our whole bench had no idea. But with the win tonight I don't think we care."

In a roundabout sense, that's all that mattered for the Blues.

No comments:

Post a Comment