One of the great things about watching NHL playoff games is the anticipation of witnessing something special, something truly amazing or totally unexpected.
During my time covering the Blues I have witnessed game-winning overtime goals. I have seen defenseman Chris Pronger taken off the ice on a stretcher after suffering heart arrhythmia that came from being hit with a puck to the chest.
I was there when Marc Bergevin tossed the puck into his own net, when Roman Turek surrendered a goal from center ice and when goalie Grant Fuhr suffered a knee injury after being run over by Toronto's Nick Kypreos in the goal crease.
I was even there on May 16, 1996 when Wayne Gretzky lost the puck and Steve Yzerman blasted a long shot past Jon Casey to win a rare 1-0 double-overtime Game 7 for the Detroit Red Wings.
There have been great moments in Blues playoff history as well that I remember from my youth.
The O'Shea brothers combining on a series-clinching goal against Cesare Maniago and the old Minnesota North Stars and Mike Crombeen with a 1972 playoff overtime game-winner that beat the Pittsburgh Penguins.
There are so many fans who claim they were at the old Arena for the "Monday Night Miracle" comeback win over the Calgary Flames that the building must have held 45,000 that night in May 1986 when the Blues wiped out a three-goal deficit with 12 minutes remaining in the third period. The Blues won that one 6-5 in overtime on a goal by Doug Wickenheiser.
There are no scripted heroes in the hockey playoffs. This isn't pro wrestling or a trumped up reality TV show. Big goals can come from superstars or rookies, from career minor-leaguers or even defensemen without a single playoff goal in 11 seasons.
Such was the case Thursday night at Scottrade Center, when a puck left the suddenly lethal stick of defenseman Barret Jackman and found its way past Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick and into the net. The fact the goal was scored with 50.4 seconds remaining and broke a 1-1 tie was surprising enough. That it came from grizzled veteran Barret Jackman was perhaps a bit surprising even to himself.
"He probably didn't think I was going to shoot, the way my hands are," joked Jackman, who explained what his primary role has been throughout his Blues career. "They pay me as a defensive defenseman, so I've just been hiding those shots."
And hiding them pretty well, since Jackman has scored 23 goals in 644 NHL games. There were a lot of small elements that added up to Jackman's big goal.Vladimir Sobotka took a big hit along the boards and got the puck ahead to Chris Stewart. Stewart had several options, but put a pass onto the stick of Jackman and claimed he "had a feeling. Not really a feeling, but I thought the right play was to him. He was coming late, he had a lot of time and he picked his corner."
After he did, the decibel level at Scottrade Center hovered somewhere between front-row seats at an AC/DC concert and the sound of a construction worker taking a jackhammer to the roof of your car while you are driving with the radio on full volume. The goal left Quick bent over and shaking his head.
The Blues headed for Los Angeles with a 2-0 series lead, happily celebrating an overtime win in Game 1 on Alexander Steen's short-handed goal and a last-minute goal from Jackman that delivered Game 2.
The shot that teammate Patrik Berglund called "a great little floater" has found its way into Blues' lore. It was scored by a tough, rough-hewn western Canadian whose typical playoff contributions are the kind that leave bruises and require ice packs and medical treatment.
This time, Jackman had the game right on his stick and did something truly amazing.
"I knew I had to get it towards the net and give those two guys an opportunity to get a rebound there if anything and not turn the puck over high in the zone," he said. "I was just going to get it through and it just happened to hit mesh."