Blues get past Jets in shootout

News-DemocratFebruary 8, 2014 

— It's a good thing there were no style points awarded during a wild week of hockey that pushed the St. Louis Blues into first place in the Central Division.

Their last four games went to overtime, three went to shootouts and they failed to protect a third-period lead in all four of them.

But the Blues headed to the Olympic break in first place thanks to a 4-3 shootout victory over Winnipeg on Saturday that came courtesy of shootout goals by T.J. Oshie and Vladimir Tarasenko.

The Blues (39-12-6) are tied at 84 points with Chicago (35-11-14), but have four more wins and three games in hand. Coach Ken Hitchcock's squad is 15-0-1 against the Central Division and 22-5-3 at home.

"We've given up some leads here in the last few games but found ways to hang on and get a point or two," said Blues defenseman Barret Jackman, who played in his 700th career game. "When teams are struggling it's tough to get those points, but we've been doing it and you have to be happy with first in our division right now."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock agreed.

"It's been a very difficult challenge for the players to maintain a hard focus, they deserve a lot of credit," said Hitchcock, whose team had nine players headed to Russia for the Winter Olympics. "Every time we got pushed and shoved we answered the bell."

Dustin Byfuglien's power-play goal through traffic with 6 minutes, 17 seconds remaining forced overtime. After a scoreless overtime, the game moved to the spot where the Blues are extremely comfortable -- a shootout.

They are 7-3 in shootouts this season and have one of the NHL's deadliest shootout snipers in Oshie.

Oshie has been successful on seven of his 10 shootout attempts this season and 25-of-46 (54 percent) in his career.

After Alexander Steen was stopped on the first attempt, Oshie pulled a fake on Jets goaltender Al Montoya and found the back of the net.

"It's kind of the fun part of the game where you do it at the end of practice with goalies since you were a kid," Oshie said. "It's something I've always had fun doing. You just try to switch it up. I know (goalies) watch video just like we do, I just try to be unpredictable out there."

Hitchcock said Oshie keyed off Montoya's save on Steen.

"He had that move planned because he saw what Montoya did with Steen," Hitchcock said.

After Blues goalie Brian Elliott got a piece of Andrew Ladd's shot, which also hit the post, Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko won it by ripping a wrist shot past Montoya.

"We've got ourselves in a pretty good position due to our work, and we're going to have our work cut out for us as soon as we get started (again)," Morrow said.

After a tough second period that saw the Blues surrender the lead, they regained it on a goal from Jaden Schwartz just 34 seconds into the third.

Patrik Berglund won a faceoff and got the puck to Barret Jackman at the point. Schwartz locked in on the rebound of Jackman's shot and backhanded it in to make it 3-2.

It was Schwartz's 19th goal.

Morrow opened the scoring when ripped a low shot past Montoya for his 10th goal, but Winnipeg tied it on the first of two goals by Mark Scheifele.

After scoring the first goal, Morrow set up the Blues' second when he chased down a puck that glanced off of referee Jon McIsaac and set up Derek Roy in front.

It ended a 24-game goal drought by Roy, who hadn't scored since Dec. 12.

The Blues managed only one shot during a 5-on-3 power play during the second period, missing the net entirely on several other attempts.

It was another dismal power-play day as the Blues were 0-for-8 and saw their streak of consecutive scoreless power plays reach 20.

"No thoughts," Hitchcock said. "I need a break from it, they need a break from everything. We're the product of not practicing, we haven't practiced it enough or with that type of focus. Really the power play was never a problem until the last three games, and it's more 5 on 3's.

"You just can't miss the net when the goalie cannot see the puck. In the second period he had no vision at all and we missed the net. If we just hit the net it's in every time."

After the Blues lost their shot at regaining momentum, Winnipeg fed off the penalty kill and tied it on Scheifele's second goal of the day and 13th this season.

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, or follow him on Twitter: @NormSanders

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