With a goalie playing his first NHL game and the Detroit Red Wings already up 2-0, the St. Louis Blues probably figured they were going to need to tighten things up if they were going to escape Joe Louis Arena with any points. And tighten up they did.
The Red Wings managed just six shots on goal over the final two periods – including just one in the last 20 minutes – but ended up salvaging a point in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Blues. Alexander Steen scored less than a minute into overtime, making a winner out of St. Louis goalie Jake Allen in his NHL debut.
For a time, it appeared the Blues were going to take the win without any need for drama. Detroit was up 2-0 less than eight minutes into the game after Drew Miller finished off a superb give-and-go with Jordin Tootoo, but St. Louis stormed back to score the next three goals.
The Blues’ special teams got the first two on a shorthanded effort by Patrik Berglund and a power play tally from rookie Vladimir Tarasenko. Chris Stewart gave them the lead for the first time at the 8:57 mark of the second period, taking a long lead pass from Alex Pietrangelo and deking Jimmy Howard on a clean breakaway to make it 3-2.
Though Allen was already getting plenty of help from his teammates to reduce the number of shots he was facing, it was one he didn’t even see that knotted the game back up. Pavel Datsyuk ended up with the puck behind the St, Louis net and banked a shot in off Allen’s left pad to tie the contest 3-3 with 7:21 left in the second.
The Red Wings would hardly get anything on net after that, mostly because the Blues’ skaters were determined to block everything before it got there. St. Louis was credited with 24 blocked shots on the game, and only Justin Abdelkader (playing on the Henrik Zetterberg-Damien Brunner line in the absence of the injured Johan Franzen) prevented Detroit from being completely blanked in the third period.
Any thoughts of a shootout to test the rookie goalie were quickly dashed by Steen. His wrist shot from the slot caught a piece of Howard but ended up in the back of the net to end his team’s five-game losing streak.
Detroit had won its previous three games, and will get to go for at least a point in its fifth straight when it hosts the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night. It’s back to the road after that, with stops in Minnesota and Nashville on tap.
The game was over when…
St. Louis decided to go into its own version of Operation Shutdown. It wasn’t pretty, and it produced more icing calls than shots on goal (for both teams) in the second half of the game. But it worked, and it was a pretty impressive effort by a team that has been floundering without Jaroslav Halak in the lineup.
The unsung Red Wings hero was…
Tomas Tatar, even though his pretty goal mostly went for naught. The mounting Red Wings injuries mean that someone (probably multiple someones) has to step up and score, and Tatar’s wicked stick work and backhand finish was exactly what Detroit fans have been waiting to see from him.