When Robert Bortuzzo, Ryan Reaves, and Joel Edmundson are the most relevant players to talk to after a Blues game, you know some weird stuff went down.
Such was the case Friday night when the Blues beat the Anaheim Ducks 4-3 at Scottrade Center. An excellent play by Edmundson and Bortuzzo decided the back-and-forth tilt with 19 seconds to go in the third period, and Reaves scored a goal before taking his first penalty shot since high school. It made for a unique postgame atmosphere.
“We were joking after the game your not going to see a board like that too often, if you guys wanna take a picture or something,” Bortuzzo said, referencing the whiteboard in the locker room the media uses to know which players are set to speak that night. “Reaves has been a giant part of our team, and it’s just kind of our locker room that guys are going to be chipping in every night. It could be different faces this time of year, so it’s an exciting time, exciting for our group.”
To the guys in the room, it doesn’t matter who the heroes are these days, as long as the Blues keep piling up points. After beating Anaheim, St. Louis stands at 75 points, two behind Nashville for third in the Central, and three ahead of Los Angeles for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference. Preventing another Western Conference contender from earning any points by finishing the deal in regulation was significant.
“Just to get that goal before overtime is nice,” Edmundson said of his game-winner. “It just built our confidence going into tomorrow. We’re making a playoff push and it’s an exciting time in the dressing room.”
Including a goal he scored in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals last season, Edmundson’s goal Friday was just the fourth of his young NHL career. The chance for Edmundson to wrist the puck over the glove of Ducks’ goaltender John Gibson came only after an aggressive drive by Bortuzzo into the corner, where he lined up a slick pass to his defensive partner in the slot.
“I think I just saw some space, I think Stast’ was yelling ‘skate it’ as opposed to just ripping it up to guys standing still,” Bortuzzo said. “So I took the ice and we were able to squeak by and make a play.”
Bortuzzo, who was only playing on the same pair as Edmundson because of an injury to Colton Parayko earlier in the game (Mike Yeo said the team does not expect the injury to keep Parayko out long-term), was delighted that the defensemen duo impacted the game offensively in such an important way.
“That was pretty fun, I’m not gonna lie, to see him bury that one,” Bortuzzo said. “Both guys can kind of hold their own offensively. It’s not our strength, but we want to be able to support the play. (Edmundson) is usually in there and he usually finds goods holes, and he has a great shot, so that was a good play by him.”
Vladimir Tarasenko and Paul Stastny also added goals for the Blues. That sounds more believable than Ryan Reaves doing so, but the fourth-line forward notched his fourth goal of the season to help put the Blues over the top. But even that wasn’t the most peculiar play Reaves involved himself in Friday.
While Reaves scoring is a rare sight, seeing him take a penalty shot is even more infrequent an event. His first NHL penalty shot didn’t go well, as Reaves tried to get a little fancy with his puck handling–he didn’t get off much of a ‘shot’ after all.
“I was trying to go five-hole but no dice, he had a good poke check,” Reaves said. “Actually, Hutts has been doing that to me all season, so I should have been ready for it.”
Reaves’ teammates got a kick out of… well, seeing him try his best.
“I was laughing. I wasn’t sure what happened,” Edmundson joked regarding the rogue Reaves attempt. “It’s pretty cool to get the crowd all into it–it was loud as pretty much like a playoff game in there when he was shooting.”
For Reaves, the noise was actually a detriment to his performance.
“The crowd was too loud–I was going to do the Peyton Manning 'quiet down.' Just too much going on for me, that’s not my element.”
Reaves also joked that since he had already scored one goal, he couldn't "use 'em all up in one" game. Edmundson didn’t sound like a guy interested in hearing excuses.
“He could have done a little something better than that,” Edmundson joked.
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