Game Report: Blues 5, Hurricanes 4 (shootout)

By Nicholas Hand

The Blues clinched the third seed in the Central Division and a first round matchup against the Minnesota Wild in the Stanley Cup Playoffs just by getting Saturday night’s game in Carolina to overtime.

The shootout win was just a bonus.

Ivan Barbashev, Alexander Steen, Ryan Reaves and Scottie Upshall scored in regulation for the Blues with Patrick Berglund and Vladimir Tarasenko converting in the shootout.

Carter Hutton made 34 saves in the contest and stopped the Hurricanes on three of four shootout attempts.

The Blues started strong with Barbashev’s fifth goal of the season just 26 seconds into the game. An Alex Pietrangelo shot was knocked down in front of the net and Barbashev secured the puck and lifted it over the stick of Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward.

The Blues strong start failed to produce momentum as the Hurricanes answered with two goals to take a 2-1 lead after the first period.

Klas Dahlbeck scored his second of the season off a faceoff with Hutton screened on the point shot to even the game at 9:10.

Carolina took the 2-1 lead on Jeff Skinner’s 36th goal of the season with 29 seconds remaining in the period. Skinner buried a rebound into an open net following a Brett Pesce shot.

The Blues evened the score at two on a power play with Steen’s 16th of the season. The Blues held possession in the Hurricanes zone for the large majority of the power play before Tarasenko and Pietrangelo set up Steen for a blast from the point that deflected off a Hurricanes’ penalty killer and into the top corner of the net.

Joakim Nordstrom’s seventh goal of the season gave Carolina a 3-2 lead with 5:49 remaining in the second period on a backdoor pass from Sergey Tolchinsky in a nice passing sequence with Victor Rask.

The Blues evened the score at three going into the third period when Reaves scored on a bouncing shot with Kyle Brodziak and Upshall going to the front of the net with 54 seconds left in the second period.

The Blues took a 4-3 lead on an unassisted shorthanded goal by Upshall on a breakaway 2:03 into the third period.

With Colton Parayko serving a holding minor in the box, Upshall stole the puck at the blueline and created a shorthanded breakaway beating Ward on a backhand, forehand move for the Blues second lead of the game.

The Blues failed to hold the lead, however, as Skinner scored his second of the game on a wraparound with 10:46 remaining in regulation.

The Blues sloppy own-zone play continued in the final minutes of regulation but Hutton was equal to the task securing the Blues the third seed in the Central by forcing overtime.

In overtime, both teams failed on power play opportunities and the game proceeded to the shootout.

Lee Stempniak converted on the Hurricanes first attempt in the shootout. Berglund evened the shootout with a goal in the second round and Hutton stopped the next three Carolina attempts setting up Tarasenko’s game-winner in the fourth round with a quick wrist shot over Ward’s left shoulder.

Of Note: Vladimir Sobotka did not play on Saturday after Blues head coach Mike Yeo decided it was best to wait until Sunday. Sobotka participated in the morning skate and warm-ups on Saturday… Ryan Reaves’ second period goal not only extended his career-high with seven goals this season but also gave him a career-high point total in a season with 12…. Jori Lehtera (illness), Robert Bortuzzo (upper-body injury), Nail Yakupov (undisclosed injury), and Paul Stastny (lower-body injury) were the Blues other scratches.

Looking Ahead:
The Blues finish the regular season on Sunday evening when they host the Colorado Avalanche. The game at Scottrade Center begins at 5 p.m. The schedule for the first round series against the Wild will be announced later Sunday night.