Having staved off elimination on game five, the Blues will try to force a game seven with a win on Sunday in Nashville. (Bill Greenblatt/UPI)

By Nicholas Hand

This wasn’t supposed to happen.

Not after an off-season in which Blues general manager Doug Armstrong had to sacrifice captain David Backes and Troy Brouwer to free agency to secure future flexibility for his club.

And especially not after the season-ending knee injury to emerging star forward Robby Fabbri in a game on Feb. 4 against the Penguins.

When the Blues rightly traded defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk to the Capitals on Feb. 27, the expectations shifted towards just making the playoffs. Few expected this postseason noise from the Blues.

And when Alexander Steen made the decision he couldn’t play in game five after testing his injured foot during pre-game warm-ups, it should have been the final nail in the coffin for this Blues postseason run.

The Predators should have taken advantage and closed out the series on Friday night at Scottrade Center. But the Blues mustered whatever gas they had left in their collective tank and willed their way to a 2-1 win, prolonging their season to game six on Sunday afternoon in Nashville.

In the process, they showed something that has rarely been exhibited by a Blues roster: They displayed the character of a championship team.

With the cards stacked against them, the Blues once again rose to the occasion with another new, unlikely contributor.

Dmitrij Jaskin, in his first appearance this postseason replacing the injured Steen, buried a rebound in the second period as the Blues scored the opening goal for the first time in this series.

Jaskin joined Joel Edmundson and Magnus Paajarvi as unlikely playoff heroes for St. Louis.

But for a team that has been fighting an uphill battle most of the season, almost all of this has been unlikely.

In the latest episode, a last gasp effort by the Blues produced another unlikely result, signals of fatigue creeping into the Predators play.

Both St. Louis goals featured the key characteristic of Blues forwards outworking the Predators defense to the front of the net.

Jaskin outworked Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis to the front of the net and capitalized on a rebound following an Alex Pietrangelo shot.

On Jaden Schwartz’s game-winning goal, he outskated Nashville’s Roman Josi to the front of the net to deflect Colton Parayko’s point shot and then scored on the rebound. Parayko’s shot directly resulted from an uncharacteristic failed clearing attempt around the boards by Josi.

If the Blues pull off another unlikely outcome on Sunday, they will have to find another way to partially re-fill their tank and empty it out on the ice at Bridgestone Arena. The Blues must outwork and out-will the Predators in hopes that more fatigue surfaces in Nashville’s game and St. Louis can escape with their only road win needed in this series.

Maybe head coach Mike Yeo figures out another way to insert more fresh legs into the Blues lineup at forward in game six to accomplish it.

The Blues may be outmatched in terms of speed and skill throughout the lineup by Nashville, but game five showed that if they do lose this series, it isn’t for a lack of heart.
Regardless of the outcome in game six, Armstrong and Yeo have made a critical discovery through this unlikely postseason run. A question that has plagued Armstrong during his tenure as general manager has been answered.

This Blues’ core has developed a championship pedigree that bodes well for future seasons. They now have the heart even if they don’t have the horses this postseason.

Follow Nick Hand on Twitter @Nick_Hand