The blues just can’t get this overtime thing down. They were a top 10 team overall all season. But they stay close to the bottom when it comes to OT.
The latest example came against the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday. A late goal from Brayden Schenn made it 3-3 and forced extra time. Pierre-Luc Dubois scored a 2-on-1 goal in overtime to give the Jets (27-23-10) a 4-3 win over the Blues (34-17-8).
The Blues fell to 1-6 in overtime this season.
There are late scratches, and then there was Robert Thomas against Winnipeg on Sunday. Thomas, who has been red hot lately, was participating in pregame line rushes at the Enterprise Center just about 15 minutes before the puck dropped.
But when teams took the ice for the game, no Thomas. He was ill, perhaps the same mistake that recently sidelined Tyler Bozak and David Perron. Thomas had a career-high four points (two goals, two assists) against Nashville on Saturday and had two goals against the New York Rangers on Thursday.
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So it was a hit, to be sure. But the blues are used to such things by now. Be it COVID, injury, 11 forwards, whatever. Logan Brown, who was due to sit out with the return of Oskar Sundvist, was back 3 in the lineup.
A late line shuffling from Coach Craig Berube and we’re good to go.
Winnipeg got off to a quick start and then got 1:01 of a 5-on-3 power play as first Jordan Kyrou (hook) and then Brandon Saad (stumble) went into the box on penalties. You may recall that the Blues’ penalty shootout has been struggling lately – allowing seven power-play goals in their last six games.
But the Blues killed the 5-on-3 without a single shot on goal from Winnipeg and managed to return to even strength despite the game being goalless in the opening stages.
Things like that can change the dynamic and that was the case on Sunday. At 4:32 in the first round, Evgeny Svechnikov walked away to beat Torey Krug. Svechnikov also got a 10-minute misconduct in the process.
An even hotter Blues player than Thomas gave the home team a 1-0 lead with a smashing shot to Connor Hellebuyck from the left circle on the power play. Slowed by a concussion and COVID, Perron went from the day before Thanksgiving to two days before Valentine’s Day with just one goal.
But look at him now. Sunday’s goal gave him 17 for the season and eight in his last seven games.
In a close, even game, the Blues held their 1-0 lead for much of the second half. Jordan Binnington looked sharp, as did Hellebuyck, who came on after conceding four or more goals in each of his last six games.
What looked like a chance for the Blues quickly became a mid-period tie. Justin Faulk led a 3v2 rush down the middle of the ice. Faulk waited just a moment too long to pass the puck, he was intercepted by the Jets who launched to a two-for-zero break, with Kyle Connor passing Nikolaj Ehlers for a backside goal to to tie the game at 9:09 that second. It was Ehlers’ 15th season.
The game seemed destined to go into the third period in a 1-1 draw, but as the period drew to a close, Brayden Schenn intercepted a pass in the neutral zone and cross-ice-passed just behind the blue line to Vladimir Tarasenko.
The pass was just behind Tarasenko, who had to reach back. In a way, that helped him prepare for the shot he converted from Hellebuyck to make it 2-1. Tarasenko, who joined Kyrou as the only Blues player with 20 goals so far this season, experienced an eight-game goal drought.
And there were only 27 seconds left in the third. Regardless of the third, late goals can change the dynamic.
That was not the case on Sunday. It was all Winnipeg to start the third third. The Jets had eight of their first ten shots on target early in the half – and two of them ended up in the net.
First it was Mark Scheifele, who crowned a front cracker with his 22nd goal of the season. With 1:30 p.m. to go it was still a 2-2 game. Just 63 seconds later, Winnipeg was up 3-2. After a Marco Scandella envelope in the St. Louis zone, Kyle Connor buried his 37th goal of the season with a clean look at Binnington. There was nobody between Connor and Binnington.
As the game drew to a close, the momentum stayed with Winnipeg. The Blues had almost no possession time.
At 3:51, Brandon Saad pulled off a shot from about 30 feet that hit metal – right where the post meets the bar. The fans in the sold-out crowd of 18,096 thought it was a goal, but there was no scoring. And no goal.
Just as Binnington went on the bench for an additional attacker, Schenn fired from a knee from the left circle – right past Hellebuyck and leveled the game by just 2:11. It was Schenn’s 17th goal of the season and resulted in a six-game goal drought.