Blues Torch Devils 3-2 (SO)

In their first game of the new year, the Blues were on the hunt to take advantage of the chance to restart their season in the second half. After faltering to third place in the Central Division during a rough December, this game would ultimately be a preview of a Blues team that was anxious to hit the reset button. They took on the ever-dangerous New Jersey Devils. The two teams are evenly matched in the terms of standings. The Devils are a decent 22-10-6 with 50 points, and they stand second place in the Eastern Conference Metropolitan Division behind the Washington Capitals. The Blues have a few more wins than the Devils under their belt. The Blues are 24-15-2, though the teams both have 50 points because of the Devils’ 4 more overtime losses than the Blues. The Blues had played 41 games to the Devils’ 38, so the Devils did seem to have the upper hand going into tonight’s game. Both were desperate to take home two points tonight. The Devils had lost their last two, and though the Blues managed to scrape out a win against the Hurricanes, their winning ways from October and November had diminished significantly in December.

           The Blues scored the first goal in the first period. It was Vladimir Tarasenko’s 17th of the season, a goal that should be featured on some highlight reels this week. Joel Edmunson entered the zone with the puck and fired a shot that was wide of Devils goaltender Keith Kinkaid, though Kinkaid lost his footing and fell after the original shot by Edmunson. When the puck ricocheted off of the boards, Vladimir Tarasenko was there to snatch it up and roof it into the wide-open net to give the Blues the early 1-0 lead.

           The Devils would counter with their own goal in the second period, this one scored by Nico Hischier, which was his 8th of the season. Jesper Bratt fired a slapshot towards goaltender Carter Hutton, and Hischier’s stick tipped the puck beneath Hutton’s pad and into the net for the game-tying goal. The Blues would get the lead again, however, when Vladimir Sobotka would deposit a goal late in the second period. Tage Thompson, the Blues phenom rookie who has been the substitute for the injured Jaden Schwartz, wristed a shot towards the goal, and Vladimir Sobotka was there to tip it past Kinkaid. The Blues ended the second period with a 2-1 lead and remained hopeful that they would be able to hold onto it this time.

           This was short-lived when the game recommenced in the third period. Taylor Hall’s 13th of the year came directly after a Blues penalty. The Devils won the faceoff, and the puck was fired behind Carter Hutton. Hutton did not seem aware of where the puck had gone because a scuffle after the faceoff screened him. Taylor Hall knew exactly where the puck was, and he scooped it onto his stick and banked it off of Carter Hutton’s back and into the net. The Blues caught a break when a goal was overturned shortly after this goal was registered. The original call on the ice had been a good Devils goal, which would’ve given New Jersey a 3-2 lead. However, the Blues challenged the play for offsides, a risky move because the Blues had already used their timeout. The rule for this is that a coach can challenge even if his team no longer has their timeout/coach’s challenge, but if the call stands and the team loses the challenge, the team gets a penalty for delay of game. However, if the call is overturned, the team receives no penalty. Mike Yeo decided that it was worth the risk, and the overturned goal ended up having a huge impact as the game went into overtime tied 2-2.

           Carter Hutton made an excellent save on Jesper Bratt’s breakaway, but the real threat was the rebound. The puck ricocheted off the goal post and out of the net, right to Johansson, who shot the puck into what should’ve been an empty net. Carter Hutton robbed Johansson when he stuck out his toe and barely kept the puck from crossing the goal line. This was certainly one of the best saves we have seen all year, and it kept the game going in overtime.

           Though the Devils outplayed the Blues for the majority of overtime, Hutton was able to keep the puck from crossing the goal line, and the game went to a shootout.

           The first shooter for the Blues was Brayden Schenn. Schenn scored with a wrist shot that Kinkaid must not have been suspecting, beating the goalie over the pad and giving the Blues the first goal of the shootout.

           Taylor Hall shot for the Devils, but was denied by Hutton with his left pad. The Blues lead the shootout 1-0.

           Vladimir Tarasenko shot next for the Blues. He beat Kinkaid glove side, making shootouts look easy as Kinkaid was expecting Tarasenko to go the other direction.

           Palmieri was the final shooter for the Devils, who was robbed by Carter Hutton with his glove, giving the Blues a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils and are now undefeated in 2018.

           The Blues First Star of the Game was Carter Hutton, who basically stole the game from New Jersey and gave the Blues the two points they had been desperately searching for. The Blues are now tied with the Winnipeg Jets for the Central Division, and for a team that looked like it was on the verge of a collapse just a few days prior, the Blues certainly looked a lot better in tonight’s game. The next Blues game will be will be Thursday, January 4, against the Vegas Golden Knights at Scottrade Center. In the words of John Kelly…bring out the Zamboni!

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