As the game wound down, it seemed to be just another night where the Blues gave an all-out strong effort yet came up short.
It happened Monday night in Columbus, as the Blues came back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the game and control the action. But a goal in the third deflated them for good, and the Jackets added two empty netters, which made the game's box score look more lopsided than it was.
But Thursday night it really got agonizing for Blues fans, as Brad Boyes took a hooking penalty with under two minutes left, virtually spelling the end to a possible tying goal, since they would have to do while shorthanded. But then Mike Weaver fed Paul Kariya down the right side for a two-on-one with Barrett Jackman breaking on the opposite side.
But Evgeni Nabokov would come up huge, stoning Jackman on a cross-ice one-timer that took most of the air out from the Blues hopes of a comeback. That was their chance, their golden opportunity...and Nabokov had denied them.
Yet to the credit of the Blues they did not go away, and tied the score dramatically in the last seven seconds of the game, forcing overtime, and winning the game in a shootout.
This is exactly the kind of game the Blues needed and the type of game that could, and needs to be a jumpstarter for a Blues turnaround. We can sit all day trying to think of what could wake this team up but its what happens on the ice that matters the most and where they really take care of business. This should be a huge momentum builder heading into a Saturday matinee at Los Angeles and something they can use as a bench mark.
The Blues just came back to beat one of the best teams in the NHL and they did it on the road.
Another confidence booster: The Blues have now won their last two shootouts, after losing their first 4 of the season. It seems like more games are decided by shootouts these days and its good that the Blues are getting experience in them. The Edmonton Oilers set a record last year for most shootout victories in a season. But in my opinion, a shootout is not what teams should be hoping for, because its a different situation every time and i'd rather take care of business and avoid a shootout if at all possible.
Road Penalty Killing:
So I understand that local tv broadcast crews want to give positive and optimistic stats for the team they're covering but its important to see the other side of the spectrum.
For example: the big stat that Darren Pang and John Kelly delivered during tonight's broadcast was about the Blues' road penalty killing. The Blues are the sixth-best road penalty killing team in the league, and have killed 20 of their last 21 penalties in the last four games.
BUT, if the Blues have killed 20 of 21 penalties in only the last four road games, that may be exposing a big reason why the Blues are struggling and have trouble being consistent. The stat means that the Blues give their opponents an average of five power-plays per game...way more chances than they should be giving their opponent. This was the case against San Jose, although the Sharks went 0-for-5 on the power-play. But its like playing with fire, the Blues can't be taking penalties thinking that their penalty-killing unit will just get the job done. In fact, Blues coach Andy Murray has stressed how he wants his team to score more 5-on-5 goals, not having to rely on the special teams as a crutch to generate offense.
Overall, it was a great win for the Blues at San Jose and it should build character and give the team some momentum and confidence. They had this chance to bounce back before, but did not take it. Hopefully a successful end to the road trip may spark them this time.