Some points in the standings are "good" points, stealing them where a team has no business earning one. The flip side is what we saw Saturday night, when the Carolina Hurricanes blew a two-goal lead in dropping a 5-4 decision to the St. Louis Blues.
The Canes came out of the gate early. Victor Rask, looking more and more comfortable every game with linemates Jeff Skinner and Alexander Semin, fired home a slap shot from the blue line 2:00 into the game to put the Canes up on their third shift of the game.
Just over four minutes later, Alex Steen tied the proceedings at 1 as the Blues caught the Carolina defense napping on a rush up the ice, but Skinner restored the Canes' lead at 7:23 with his 10th of the season, joining Eric Staal and Jiri Tlusty in double digits for the year.
Just before the halfway point of the period, the Blues' Barret Jackman caught Nathan Gerbe with a high elbow. Tim Gleason took exception and administered a summary beat down to Jackman. Gerbe returned for one short shift late in the period, after spending more than nine minutes on the bench.
Eric Staal then made it a two-goal lead for the visitors at 12:42, the fortunate recipient of a mistimed Blues back pass that sprung him on a breakaway. Staal's 13th was his sixth goal in the past seven games, not including the shootout-winning goal that beat the Bruins last Sunday.
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock had seen enough, calling his timeout and pulling starting goaltender Brian Elliott for Jake Allen. The goaltending switch had the desired effect, as the Blues did not surrender a shot in the remainder of the first period.
The Blues kept coming to start the second. Two goals in under a minute, by Jaden Schwartz and Patrik Berglund, tied the game five minutes into the period. At this point, our estimable phoblographer tweeted that the last time the Canes put up a field goal in the first period, they were shut out the rest of the way by the backup goaltender.
Fortunately for the Canes, history wouldn't repeat itself on this night. Riley Nash made sure of that, poking a shot through Allen at 15:06 to give the Canes a 4-3 lead. They took that lead to the locker room thanks to Cam Ward, who robbed Paul Stastny from point-blank range with two minutes to go in the period
The see-saw continued in the third period. Vladimir Tarasenko, the Blues' most dangerous player in the final two periods after Hitchcock moved Stastny to center Tarasenko and Schwartz, cleaned up his own rebound at 6:46 to tie the game for the third time.
Allen and Ward traded saves for the rest of regulation, making 22 stops between them as the game opened up and flew back and forth. Neither goalie gave an inch, and each team took a point into overtime.
The Blues looked to have won the game at 3:08 of overtime on a Jay Bouwmeester wrister, but referee Steve Kozari waved the goal off, ruling that Ward was interfered with. While the call earned the ire of the home crowd, it only prolonged the inevitable, as American Hero T.J. Oshie scored the only goal of the shootout and the Blues took two points.
- The Canes' penalty kill was perfect again. It's now on a ten-game streak of not conceding a goal, killing 27 straight penalties over that span.
- Newly-minted All-Star Justin Faulk, the Canes' lone representative to Columbus in two weeks, led the Canes with more than 26 minutes of ice time.
- The four goals the Canes surrendered were the most they had given up since a 4-1 loss to Montreal on December 16.
Canes Country Three Stars
3. Victor Rask: He's found a home centering Skinner and Semin, and has a three-game point streak to show for it including two points tonight.
2. Alex Pietrangelo: Played over 30 minutes, largely shut down the Staal line, and figured in on two goals. Not a bad night at the office.
1. Vladimir Tarasenko: Would have had a two-point night if not for Ward robbing Stastny. Despite that, he was all over the ice, and the Canes had their hands full with him. His third-period goal was a just reward for an impressive game.
Next up: The Canes return home for a day off before preparing for the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday at PNC.