By Lou Korac
When the puck went in the net, there was a hushed moan from the Enterprise Center crowd, one filled with guarded animosity.
Dallas Stars defenseman Esa Lindell had just scored what he thought was a third-period power-play goal just 2 minutes 16 seconds in. It would have given the Stars a two-goal lead over the Blues, and for all intents and purposes, put the final nail in the coffin of a game in which was hotly-contested but with two goalies (Jordan Binnington and Ben Bishop) playing the way they were, goals were at a premium.
Paging Sean Ferrell.
The Blues’ assistant coach and video guru was on the details before the goal was scored. Was it offsides or not? That was the question he would have to quickly answer to himself and get the message relayed quickly down to coach Craig Berube and the Blues’ bench.
The Blues challenged it, they won it and turned the momentum of a reprieve into their own benefit when they rallied for two third-period goals and a 3-2 win over the Stars on Saturday.
Lindell’s would-be goal from the slot would have made it 3-1, but instead, Ferrell’s wizardry saw that the Stars’ entry into the zone was offside and relayed that message down to the bench. Dallas’ Justin Dowling was in just before the puck crossed the Blue line, and when referee Wes McCauley made his paused, dramatic call that the goal was being waved off, off went the Blues.
They would get goals from Brayden Schenn to tie it and Sammy Blais to win it.
“It’s a turning point; that’s a game-changer,” Schenn said. “Obviously it gives you some confidence, momentum that you need just one to get yourself back into it. Great job by Sean Ferrell.
“I didn’t see it live, but [David] Perron seen it live and he said he thought it was offside right away, so he kind of made the call on that one too.”
Perron, who scored 1:21 into the game to make it 1-0, was making the call on the bench.
“I was yelling on the bench right away,” Perron said. “… The guy just came back from the o-zone and I was kind of talking about that one that they end up reversing. We saw the replay and definitely a huge momentum swing. It’s a tight one and it’s one that Chief was talking on the bench, he has to take a chance there. Otherwise it’s a 3-1 game and it’s a lot harder to come back.”
The Blues (1-0-1) were in a position of no choice really. Even early in the third period, had they not challenged, recovering from a two-goal deficit would have been pretty daunting. Dallas would have locked things down defensively pretty tightly, so risking a two-minute penalty again wasn’t even in question really.
“It’s 3-1, I was pretty … not confident, but I think it’s worth a challenge,” Berube said. “They did a good job, Sean and Otter and them, looking at it. They were pretty confident it was offside.
“We looked at it. The referee, Wes McCauley, gave us some time, which was good, so we got a good look at it.
“It shows we’re aggressive. I like their input. They were looking at it too. I think we’re all in it together.”
Everyone had to be on the same page here, and not one person was hesitant. Everyone was in unison: go for it.
“We felt we were pretty sure on that one tonight,” Schenn said. “It is close, no doubt about it, but I guess when you can zoom in and kind of see exactly if it’s offside or not, Chief ended up making the call, but obviously great job by Ferrell making that call tonight.”
And great job by the Blues pouncing on the opportunity. Schenn would score at 4:27 to tie the game 2-2 on a shot off Bishop’s arm, up, over and off his back and arm and in.
“I’ll take ’em any way you can get ’em,” Schenn said. “Great play by Vladi [Tarasenko] taking them wide. When he’s skating and driving the D wide and he’s able to turn up and make a play, I just called for the puck, put it on net and you never know. I was trying to get the shot off as quick as I can and maybe surprise Bishop a little bit and got a lucky bounce there.”
Blais, who had his first multi-point game in the NHL Saturday after he set up Perron’s first goal of the season, would benefit from a bounce for the game-winner at 10:25.
Ryan O’Reilly won the offensive zone face-off, and Carl Gunnarsson’s shot from the point caromed off Blais’ behind, off the glove of Stars defenseman Taylor Fedun and through the wickets of goalie Ben Bishop.
“It was a good bounce,” Blais said. “When you work hard, you get some good bounce. I’m just happy to be in the position I’m at right now and just got to keep going.”
When it comes to confidence for Blais, Perron quipped, “He scores with his rear end, so I guess it’s pretty high. Sometimes the puck finds you.”
It was a good bounce back game for the Blues after they blew a 2-0 lead in the season opener against Washington before falling 3-2 in overtime.
“It’s not going to be easy,” said Binnington, who made 28 saves. “People are going to be playing hard every game. That’s the NHL. Every night is a tough game. There’s skill on every team. You’ve got to be prepared, do your best and play hard for each other.”
Photo by AP courtesy of KSDK Sports