On a day that the country paused to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, the St. Louis Blues went into the TD Bankworth Garden in Boston and stole two points right from under the skates of the Bruins.
It has to be because of the Monday afternoon holiday games this season for the Blues...there's no other explanation for it.
Remember back to October 13th of this season? Ironically, another holiday, another Monday afternoon game. It was Thanksgiving Day in Canada, and the Blues pulled of an amazing comeback in Toronto to beat the Maple Leafs 5-4 in the shootout. The Blues were down 3-0 after the first period, but the Blues scored three unanswered goals in the second period to tie it. Toronto's Niklas Hagman scored late in the second period to give the Leafs another lead, but Paul Kariya's goal early in the third tied the game at four, which stood through overtime and into the shootout, until Andy McDonald and Brad Boyes scored in the shootout to give the Blues a miraculous 5-4 win.
Well, today the Blues performed "Miracle: Part Two" at the hands of the Bruins. The Blues had a 2-1 lead after two and a half periods, but consecutive penalties to Dan Hinote for hooking and David Backes for cross-checking put the Bruins on a two-man advantage for 1:48. Boston, being one of the best teams in the NHL this season, made the Blues pay. Michael Ryder scored in the slot for his 18th of the season to tie it at two. PJ Axelsson scored on a wrister from just inside the right faceoff circle 19 seconds later to give the Bruins a 3-2 lead. Zdeno Chara blasted home a shot just 40 seconds later from the left point to put the Bruins up 4-2, and to what Blues' fans seemed like another late game collapse by the team.
As Lee Corso likes to say on "ESPN College Gameday", "Not so fast, my friends...."
With 2:42 remaining in the game, Bruins' winger Stephane Yelle took a tripping penalty, and sent the Blues on the power play. David Perron didn't disappoint, wristing a shot from the blueline into a crowd and past goalie Tim Thomas to cut the Bruins' lead to 4-3 with 1:20 to go. Then, with the Blues' net empty, Keith Tkachuk took a shot from just inside the blueline with under five seconds to go that bounced off Thomas' shoulder and into the air. David Backes, planted near the right goalpost, was in the right place at the right time. He batted the puck out of the air and into the net with 1.3 seconds left in the game to tie the game at four. Referees reviewed the play, but ruled that Backes' stick was indeed at crossbar level, which upheld the goal.
All the Blues needed to do was finish the game off, and that's exactly what they did.
After a scoreless overtime, the game went to a shootout. TJ Oshie and Brad Boyes scored consecutive goals, and Blues' backup goalie Chris Mason, who came into the game after Manny Legace suffered a lower body injury five minutes into the contest and had to be pulled, stopped Blake Wheeler and P.J. Axelsson to somehow give the Blues an unbelievable 5-4 victory.
It was indeed a miracle win for the Blues, one that will be talked about at the watercooler for a while.
If only there were more holiday games the Blues could play this season....