The captain giveth, the captain taketh away.
A November hockey game between bitter rivals, Blues and Blackhawks Wednesday night at Scottrade Center boasted the atmosphere of a late spring showdown. With the Blues trailing 1-0 in the eleventh hour, Alex Pietrangelo scored from deep range, the puck dribbling by the previously untouchable Corey Crawford to tie the score late in the third period.
Instead of playing hero, Pietrangelo became the goat.
Working to clear the puck shortly after his triumph, Pietrangelo inadvertently sent it twirling over the glass for a delay of game penalty. St. Louis managed to stave off Chicago's man-advantage for the remainder of regulation, but the penalty extended into the overtime period.
Only one second after Pietrangelo was permitted to join the overtime action, it ended. Artemi Panarin scored the game-winner for the Blackhawks before Pietrangelo could find his way back into the defensive zone.
“That’s a tough way to lose. I feel really bad right now,” Pietrangelo said. “Tough to take a penalty there in the last minute. It’s a lonely feeling sitting in that box, let me tell you. Just (trying to) get the puck out of our end. Sometimes it rolls, sometimes it… I mean, I’m not trying to flip it over the glass.”
Players understand that randomness can strike at any time, but there’s little solace in being done in by a fluke penalty rather than one of effort.
“He never meant to do that,” Jake Allen said. “He was just trying to clear space and get it outside and some of those pucks just roll on you. Just a little too much mustard on it. That’s the name of the game.”
Allen had a good night overall, stopping 28 of 29 shots in regulation. He said he made a bad read on Marian Hossa’s second-period goal, which came off a rebound. The only shot in overtime came on Panarin’s goal. Allen never saw that one.
“I just heard it hit the net,” Allen said. “Tough way to go.”
In a rivalry game where the intensity heightens, the storyline of missed connections returned for the Blues Wednesday. Any number of their chances could have produced the desired result, but a point blank look for Vladimir Tarasenko stood out from the rest.
And how could it not? The team’s most potent scorer staring down an open net on a power play—that’s a goal. Except for this time, as an outstretched toe of Corey Crawford inexplicably thwarted Tarasenko.
“I kind of saw he was going to the backhand,” Crawford said. “He didn’t shoot right away, he sort of wound up, which gave me time to get over there.”
In an amped up Scottrade Center, desperation hockey filled the first period. It displayed as sloppy; players slipped, collided and often scrambled to regain their position on the ice. It wasn't pretty, but the effort and energy was undeniable.
Ken Hitchcock said he didn’t like the second period, but was pleased by the Blues skating in first and the third. The third period, of course, was not all joy. Hitchcock was left disheartened by a penalty bug that, including a Scottie Upshall brawl with Panarin, bit four times in the frame.
It was more than a fatal flipped puck over the boards.
“We just can’t take the penalties that we’re taking when the game’s on the line,” Hitchcock said. “To put in that type of effort in the third period and not being able to continue the momentum, it hurts us.
“It just becomes a conscious decision that you’re gonna stay disciplined and you’re going to stay focused. And you’re not gonna reach. Some of them are reaching fouls and some of them are just puck management fouls.”
For the Blues to force overtime and come away with a point was a silver lining, but missing the chance to drive the stake into the hated Hawks after an exciting comeback should be more than enough incentive to correct their indiscretions after one that got away.
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