Picture this: In the middle of a power play, a heavy-shooting defenseman slaps a puck so hard that it knocks the goaltender’s stick out of his hands and into the corner of the ice. If the offense keeps possession in the zone for a full minute with that man-advantage, how many shots will they fire off while the opposing goalie is without his twig?
If you answered anything besides zero, zilch or a big fat goose egg, you’d have been wrong as it pertained to the St. Louis Blues Saturday night. When Colton Parayko rifled a shot at Carolina’s Scott Darling during a second period power play, the impact caused Darling’s stick to go flying. Unable to retrieve it while the Blues lurked in the o-zone, Darling had to face the potential St. Louis’ onslaught without it.
Of course, that task turned out far less daunting than it should have, as the Blues failed to put a single shot on goal in the nearly 60 seconds Darling was without a stick. The Hurricanes eventually cleared the puck just as Derek Ryan departed the penalty box, and to cap the maddening sequence for Blues fans, chased down the loose puck and deposited it behind Carter Hutton for Carolina’s first goal of the game.
What was once a 2-0 lead had swiftly become a tied affair when the Canes added another goal later in the period. Fortunately, the bizarre missed opportunity for the Blues can be viewed with mild bemusement rather than intense scrutiny, as Scottie Upshall added the game-winning goal in the third period to ensure the night was a positive one for St. Louis. Blues coach Mike Yeo expressed appreciation for his team's ability to persevere through that trying stretch in the second period.
“There are going to be moments in games where you bend a little bit—but we don’t break,” Yeo said. “I think there have been times lately where we’ve broken in those situations. (But) I think tonight was a really good example. When they scored that second goal, I liked the way we came out and got right back to our game.”
As for the sequence itself, Yeo wasn’t keen on rehashing the details, but did admit to having the same thought process as everyone else in the building while watching it unfold.
“(I was thinking) ’Shoot!’ Yeah, I was with the rest of the fans there, for sure,” Yeo said. “Not to dwell on that, but certainly you would like to take a shot in that situation. We didn’t take the shot, and obviously they score right after. I think if we weren’t prepared and ready for some adversity in the course of the game, that could’ve broken us, the way things have gone, but that wasn’t the case.”