Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Blues didn't pout, they kept fighting and persevered

Blown call in Game 3 against Sharks could have sent St. Louis spiraling 
negatively; outscored San Jose 12-2 to win three straight, reach Cup Final

ST. LOUIS -- When Timo Meier batted the puck with his hand that created the game-winning goal in overtime for Erik Karlsson in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final and help the San Jose Sharks take a 2-1 series lead, things could have unraveled for the Blues.

They could have gone manic, they could have gone unnerved, they could have gone rogue on the league and its officials for an obvious missed call. Some were publicly peeved, but most kept their cool.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
David Perron, celebrating after scoring in Game 6 against San Jose, said
the Blues took the right approach after a Game 3 controversial loss. 

Instead of pouting, the Blues, as they have done since this magical journey began for all intents and purposes on Jan. 3, turned the page and focused on the task at hand, and that was winning the next shift, the next battle, the next game, and ultimately, they won the series.

That even-keeled mindset helped them win the next three games and take down the Sharks in six games to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1970 following a convincing 5-1 win in Game 6 on Tuesday, the first time the Blues have clinched a berth to the Cup Final on home ice since 1968.

All the Blues did following the Karlsson goal was outscore the Sharks 12-2 in winning three straight games. Once again, they turned a seemingly impossible obstacle to overcome and conquer the situation. They did it when they were last in the league, they did it when they were in a 2-2 series with the Winnipeg Jets, they did it when they faced elimination against the Dallas Stars and won Games 6 and 7, and they did it again here.

"My feeling was if we were going to win the next game, we were going to win the series," said Blues right wing David Perron, who had a goal and an assist on Tuesday and is going to the Cup Final for the second straight season (with Vegas in 2018). "That's just how I felt because we took that road. Every game's different and all that, but I'm just glad we approached it that way and certainly throughout the playoffs, there were different calls that people can say or whatever, but I think we reacted a little different to that, and that's why we had success at the end."

Blues interim coach Craig Berube isn't one to dwell on what might have been, or if his team was wronged in any way. Those conversations remained internal. Of course they were angry, of course they were miffed by it, but the Blues decided once the game was over, channeling those emotions in the right direction was the best course of action.

"I think so. It could've went either way," Berube said. "But I thought that our team, they didn't want to use that as an excuse. We let it go and moved on and we knew we had to play better.

"I'll go back to that Game 3. We should've closed that game out. And it should've never gotten to that point. But things happen and that's a good hockey team over there. They battled and we stayed with it. And we played some really good hockey after that."

The Blues have played real good hockey for months. It took blood, sweat and tears to do it, but now reaching the pinnacle, the Blues are four wins from territory they've never reached.

"We've been through a lot this year, obviously," Blues defenseman Colton Parayko said. "Where we've been, it's easy to say, we've done a good job of transitioning. We did a good job after the break, we put 11 games together, and that's not easy to do in this league. Any team can win any game any night in this league. To be able to do that was huge for us and put us in a spot to almost win our division. We wanted to continue to push. We knew where we were at in January. Not necessarily finish first but continue to build and just show what we were capable of."

That's certainly been the case.

"It was crazy last couple months in the city, especially yesterday anywhere you go, the people just wish you good luck and you can feel the support," Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko said. "It's amazing. I just want to mention first of all support from our families. It was perfect, and from fans, it was amazing. They give us a lot of power, especially on home ice. Especially when we play away and we can see people come to cheer for us, it feels unbelievable.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Robert Bortuzzo (41) and Sammy Blais celebrate early in the first period of
the Blues' series-clinching Game 6 win over San Jose.

"(Something special developed) right away when we come together in the summer. It doesn't take right away to get that chemistry. During the season, we just spend a lot of time together, get closer to each other and just believe in each other. When we were playing not really good, we always believe we can do something more."

"With all we've been through this year and getting the win at home in Game 6, it's big for us and it's big for our fans," Blues forward Sammy Blais said. "We're really happy but we're not done yet. We've got four more wins to get to win the big prize at the end and we're not going to stop here."

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