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Blues top Hurricanes 3-2 in OT

by Louie Korac /
ST. LOUIS -- Though it was only the seventh game of the season, the St. Louis Blues were in desperate need of a win.

Sinking fast in a loaded Western Conference, the Blues were coming off a 1-3-0 road trip during which both their special teams sank to last in the League and their No. 1 goaltender struggled with confidence. Down by two to Carolina on Friday, the Blues found themselves staring another in the face.

But that all turned around with arguably their best period of hockey this season -- the Blues outshot Carolina 20-12 and scored twice in the second period, then got a goal by Matt D'Agostini with 1:02 left in OT for a 3-2 victory before the 44th consecutive sellout at Scottrade Center.

"I don't know if we turned it around," said captain David Backes, whose goal late in the second period tied the game at 2-2. "Rather than having that lapse that we've had in past games where the other team would get a push, that next line would push back and get the puck into their zone and make their defense go back for pucks, get right back on our game."

After seeing Jay Harrison and Brandon Sutter score goals to stake the Canes (3-3-1) to a 2-0 lead, the Blues came charging back on goals by Jason Arnott and Backes. They had 20 of their 43 shots at Cam Ward in the middle period.

"Even in the first, I thought we were good," said D'Agostini, who steered Vladimir Sobotka's centering feed behind Ward for the winner. "We were down 2-0, but at the same time, I thought we were in the game and taking it to them at times.

"We stayed positive and calm and stuck with our game and it paid off in the end."

Brian Elliott, who improved to 2-0 on the season, now has a 2.08 goals-against average and .930 save percentage after stopping 27 shots, including a miraculous reflex stop in OT after a shot caromed off the chest of teammate Alex Pietrangelo. His play has been key as starter Jaroslav Halak (1-4-0, 3.47 GAA,.835 save percentage) struggles to find his game.

"There has to be (a sense of desperation) every night," Elliott said. "That's how you become a winning team. Having that desperation and that will to do anything to win, that's how teams go deep.

"We obviously wanted to establish our type of game here at home and know when you come in here, teams are going to have to work pretty hard to get two points off of us."

Carolina, which began the season 0-2-1, had reeled off three wins in a row. Things looked pretty good for a fourth straight victory with a two-goal lead and Ward on top of his game.

"We looked a little bit like the road team tonight," Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said. "We had a few chances that didn't go in and they throw out of their net.
"It wasn't our best, but we'll take the point and go."

Carolina had chances to win the game in overtime during a 4-on-3 power play, but the Blues' penalty killers, much-maligned for the early part of the season, came up with a big kill to give D'Agostini the chance to be the hero.

"(The penalty kill) hasn't been something that we've hung our hat on to this point this year," Blues coach Davis Payne said of a unit that came into the game having given up seven goals on just 22 opportunities. "Our guys are working, our guys are pushing, our guys are getting better and those three guys ... each unit and the goaltender got us a huge kill there. Huge for our team, huge for our chance to get that third goal."

Payne wouldn't say who would start in goal Saturday night in Philadelphia.

The Hurricanes also had a chance to win the game in regulation, but Eric Staal's slam dunk at the side of the net slammed off the right post. It turned out to be that kind of night.

"It was pretty much like that all night," 'Canes center Jeff Skinner said. "It's tough. They played a good game. You want to stick with it. I thought we played a gritty game. We got away from it for their two goals. But the bottom line, I think we played a gritty game on the road."

On the winning goal, Sobotka won a faceoff in Carolina's zone back to Pietrangelo, who got the puck to Sobotka along the left half wall. Sobotka snapped a pass into the slot for D'Agostini, who made no mistake redirecting it past Ward.

"I just sat in front of the net, Petro made a good play at the blue line to keep it down low," D'Agostini said. "I think one of their forwards jumped on the play thinking they can get a rush.

"Sobe just made a great pass right on my stick and I just steered it in."
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