By Rob Rains
Putting together consecutive wins has been a difficult task for the Blues this season and when Vladimir Tarasenko took a seat in the penalty box in overtime, it didn’t look like Friday night was going to be any different.
While Tarasenko watched, however, a blocked shot by Robert Bortuzzo sprung Ryan O’Reilly up the ice and his shorthanded goal gave the Blues a 4-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche at Enterprise Center.
This is only the third time this season the Blues have won two games in a row, something they had not done since Nov. 6 and 9. They had been 0-4 since then when they had a chance to win back-to-back games.
Friday night’s game got to overtime after the Avalanche scored a power-play goal in the third period, negating Colton Parayko’s second goal of the game earlier in the period.
At 1:31 of the extra session Tarasenko was penalized for playing with illegal equipment. The post-game explanation was that he had picked up Parayko’s stick off the ice, and because of Parayko’s height, he is allowed to play with a longer stick – but other players cannot use his stick.
The call didn’t matter when O’Reilly scored the shorthanded goal just 34 seconds later.
“I thought we were getting a power play there for a second,” O’Reilly said. “I had no idea about the rule. It ended up working out for us anyway. I don’t think our whole bench had any idea but with the win we don’t really care.”
Two games is not exactly a long winning streak, but the Blues will certainly take it – and hope it provides a spark they have been missing.
“All the ways we have been finding ways to lose games … it’s a good lesson for us. We’re starting to find it a bit more,” O’Reilly said. “A lot of times we’ve played a good game and then didn’t come back with another one and I thought tonight we had good jump and stuck together.
“We’re still behind. We still have a lot of ground to cover. It’s big to have the statements we’ve had the last few games. There’s some things there we’ve got to keep building on.”
For the second game in a row, the Blues gave up a game-tying goal in the third period, but still were able to re-group and get the win.
The Avalanche out-shot the Blues 42-28 but Jake Allen came up with several big saves at key moments as Colorado only scored the one power-play goal in six chances. That goal snapped a streak of 23 consecutive penalties killed by the Blues.
“We’re kind of looking for anything right now,” said defenseman Jay Bouwmeester. “For us it’s just about getting the points and getting the wins, trying to build something here before the break. We just need the wins; it doesn’t matter how or what it looks like. Hopefully maybe thid is a little bit of a turning point for us.”
For that to be the case, the Blues need another win on Sunday, when they will host the Calgary Flames.
“We’ve still got a lot of work to do,” Berube said. “We’ve got a real tough opponent coming in here on Sunday, hottest team in the league maybe, so it will be a tough challenge for us. We’ve just got to build off these last two wins.”
Photo by Jeff Curry/USA Today Sports