ST. LOUIS -- After finishing a six-game stretch over nine days, the St. Louis Blues can feel good about coming away with 10 of a possible 12 points.
It was one of the toughest stretches of their 48-game season, but the Blues can take pride in the fact they were knocked around a few times and were able to stand up in the face of adversity against some tough teams.
Sunday's overtime win over a tough Minnesota Wild squad was the culmination of getting kicked, only to get back up and stand victorious.
Vladimir Sobotka's tip-in of a Andy McDonald pass gave the Blues a 5-4 win against the Wild on Sunday night at Scottrade Center improving St. Louis to 5-1-0 on the season and keeping pace with the 6-0-0 Chicago Blackhawks for the top spot in the Central Division. It's the Blues' best start since the 1997-98 when the Blues began 7-1-0.
"I don't think it's the back-to-back that's the big deal. It's the three in four nights," said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, talking about his team's second set of three games in four nights. "This is six games in nine nights. To play like this, it's a good sign. It shows we've got a lot of compete in us and a lot of character. We're going to need it, but it's a good sign.
"I've been around a long time and the third period was impressive. Back-to-back, it was a very physical game [Saturday] night [in Dallas, a 4-3 Blues victory] and to come with that type of effort [Sunday] was, I think, a real confidence booster. We didn't get down on ourselves. We really took our game to another level. A full value for the win, in my opinion."
McDonald fed Sobotka in front, and the Blues' fourth-line center chopped the puck past Minnesota's Niklas Backstrom 2:16 into overtime.
"That's what we practice all the time," Sobotka said of his 19th career goal. "I just stayed in front of the net, and Andy made a good play.
"I just saw it landed right on my stick and it was a weird chop. It ended up in the net and I'm happy for it."
The Wild fell for the third time in a row (0-2-1 in that span).
"Very disappointed," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "It was a recipe for how to lose a game. ... There were more than several mistakes.
"The bottom line is we can sit here and talk about our potential, the fact that we have a nice team on paper. (But) the winners do things that it takes to win hockey games."
"We showed lots of patience and lots of character in our team," said Blues defenseman Roman Polak, who helped set up Sobotka's overtime winner. "We stuck with it. We played for 60 minutes and we got the result. We got the two points."
"It doesn't matter, we lost the game," a frustrated Parise said of another game that slipped away. "We have to win games here."
Redden's second goal in as many games -- he had two in 75 games with the New York Rangers in the 2009-10 season -- gave the Blues a 1-0 lead. Behind the net, David Backes found a streaking Redden in the left circle, and the veteran defenseman made no mistake with a one-timer past Backstrom 9:16 into the game.
The Wild were effective in their shooting percentage in the second period, scoring three times on only four shots.
Parise was in on all three goals, scoring a pair of power-play goals. The first tied it up 1-1 when his shot from a tough angle caromed off the left skate of Elliott 2:04 into the period.
Parise gave the Wild a 2-1 lead, taking a flip pass from Koivu and curling a shot around Elliott 10:52 into the period.
Then in a 4-on-4 situation, Parise's drop pass to Koivu in the right circle set up the Wild captain, who snapped a shot over Elliott's shoulder at 14:40. Play continued but after review, it clearly hit the back of the pipe and came out for a 3-1 Minnesota lead.
Berglund cut the lead to 3-2 just 58 seconds later, taking Perron's cross-ice feed and beating a sprawled Backstrom.
The Blues came out humming in the third period, swarming the Wild goal. But three missed power play chances hurt their cause. However, they got the equalizer on Chris Stewart's redirection of Pietrangelo's shot from the right point to tie it 3-3.
Jackman gave the Blues a 4-3 lead at 13:47 on a shot from the right point, off a drop pass from Vladimir Tarasenko, but Heatley's goal with 4:08 left, on a tip of a scrum in front of Elliott tied the game 4-4. Officials needed video review to see if Heatley touched it with a high stick, but the goal stood.
The Blues continued to come at the Wild in bunches and needed the extra session to claim the extra point. They are now off until Thursday.
"They're a helluva team," Hitchcock said of the Wild. "We're having a tough time. They were on our butt as much as we were on theirs. We didn't give up very many shots [34-16 advantage for the Blues], but I think if there was frustration, it was maybe we weren't creating anything because they were winning the board battles. Even though they were in their zone, they were winning the board battles, so we weren't getting any zone time.
"They were winning the puck-support battles to get exits, and then it just seemed like every little breakdown was in our net. I think there was some frustration with the fact that we were getting pushed hard. I just liked the way we responded when we got pushed like that in the third period. We pushed back in a big way. It's a good sign."
|Wade Redden (2) ASST: David Backes (3), David Perron (3)|
1 - 0 STL
|PPG - Zach Parise (4) ASST: Tom Gilbert (2), Ryan Suter (2)|
1 - 1 Tie
|PPG - Zach Parise (5) ASST: Mikko Koivu (5), Dany Heatley (2)|
2 - 1 MIN
|Mikko Koivu (1) ASST: Zach Parise (4), Tom Gilbert (3)|
3 - 1 MIN
|Patrik Berglund (3) ASST: David Perron (4), Alex Pietrangelo (5)|
3 - 2 MIN
|Chris Stewart (4) ASST: Alex Pietrangelo (6), Kevin Shattenkirk (7)|
3 - 3 Tie
|Barret Jackman (1) ASST: Vladimir Tarasenko (4), Kevin Shattenkirk (8)|
4 - 3 STL
|Dany Heatley (4) ASST: Matt Cullen (1), Ryan Suter (3)|
4 - 4 Tie
|Vladimir Sobotka (1) ASST: Andy McDonald (3), Roman Polak (1)|
5 - 4 STL
|Power Play %||15.8%||22.3%|
|% on Road||11.1%||25.4%|
|% at Home||19.6%||19.4%|
|Zach Parise Slashing against David Perron|
|Ryan Reaves Boarding against Torrey Mitchell|
|Alex Pietrangelo Holding the stick against Zach Parise|
|Mikko Koivu Unsportsmanlike conduct|
|Kris Russell Interference against Mikko Koivu|
|Marco Scandella Roughing against David Backes|
|David Backes Roughing against Marco Scandella|
|Pierre-Marc Bouchard Too many men/ice - bench|
|Pierre-Marc Bouchard Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Marco Scandella Interference against T.J. Oshie|