Blues Crunch Leafs 2-1 (OT)

​  The Blues played for the first time in a week because of their bye week, taking on the Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto. The Jets have finally caught up to the Blues in games played and stand just four points ahead of the Blues for first place, and the Nashville Predators have played 4 games less than the Blues but only lead them by 1 point. The Blues were looking to win tonight to advance ahead of Nashville for second place in the standings and to gain some ground on the Jets. The Leafs had played 45 games prior to tonight and were also third in their division, the Eastern Conference Atlantic Division. Hutton was given the start in goal over Jake Allen, signaling the Blues’ confidence in Hutton’s recent performance.

                The Blues came out in the first period playing fast and getting six shots on Leafs goaltender Frederik Anderson. Thorburn got into a fight with Matt Martin when Martin had a big hit on Kyle Brodziak 2:21 into the first period. Right off the hop, the game was eventful for the Blues, and they looked better than they had looked since Schwartz was placed on the IR. Even though the Blues outshot the Maple Leafs 14-7, the score remained at 0-0 as the first period ended. The Blues did not receive a power play in the first period, but they did receive a penalty when Kyle Brodziak broke the stick of Leo Komarov, so the Blues power play had not been tested yet in the game.

                The second period was uneventful except for the fact that the Blues received their first power play of the game, though they were not successful on this power play, only getting one shot off on the man advantage. This period would end with the game tied 0-0 as well.

                The main action came in the third period, when Connor Brown would score his eleventh of the year. The Blues were on the power play, making this goal a shorthanded goal, their second given up in as many games. A bouncing pass to Alex Pietrangelo would go right between his legs, and Brown scooped up the puck. Pietrangelo was not able to knock the puck away from him and Brown found himself on a breakaway, and he scored when he shot the puck just between the shoulder and the glove of Carter Hutton. The Maple Leafs were leading 1-0, and it remained that way until just under 2 minutes left in the third period. The Blues had pulled Carter Hutton for the extra man, and this would ultimately help the Blues once they had gained the offensive zone. Steen would record his seventh of the year to tie the game, his backhanded shot going sailing just past Anderson and trickled into the net for the late game-tying goal. The third period would end with the Blues and Leafs tied 1-1, but the Blues had the momentum going into overtime.

                The Blues had outplayed the Maple Leafs for the majority of the game, and it seemed ridiculous for them not to come out with two points given their efforts. They had recorded 42 shots on goal, and only one of them had gone in. Now that the Blues had a second chance to win the game, they were going to take it. Luckily for the Blues, Vince Dunn’s speed saved them. Paul Stastny passed the puck to Dunn from behind the Blues net, and Dunn was on a 2-on-1 advantage with Steen. Instead of passing the puck over, Dunn stayed with the play until he got in on Anderson, and fired a snapshot just between the blocker and the right pad of Anderson, sending the Blues home with the 2-1 overtime victory.

                Even though the Blues won, scoring two goals on 42 shots is an indication that offense is still a problem. The Blues should be proud of their comeback tonight, but there are also things that they need to take from it and learn from. Thankfully, the Blues and the fans can sleep well tonight knowing that the Blues are now second in the Western Conference Central Division for now, and they might stay there for tonight should the Predators fall to the Golden Knights. They are now two points out of first place in the Central. No matter how the Blues got it, a win is a win, and they will need another Thursday night when they take on the Senators in Ottawa at 6:30 PM/CT to tie the Jets for first place, as Winnipeg is in the midst of their own bye week. The Blues have the chance to take back the Central Division by Saturday, but to do that, they will need to play like they did tonight, only put more than 2 of 42 in the net. Hopefully, when the Blues return home on Saturday, they will be playing for the lead in the Central.

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