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Bortuzzo takes advantage of chance for Blues in Game 2 win against Sharks

Defenseman scores in second, blocks shot in third to tie series

by Mike Zeisberger @Zeisberger / NHL.com Staff Writer

SAN JOSE -- The St. Louis Blues were in awe.

There was Robert Bortuzzo, having never previously scored a goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, shifting to his backhand in the slot. With a simple flick of the wrists, the Blues defenseman scooped the puck with velocity into the top corner over the blocker of San Jose Sharks goalie Martin Jones.

SAP Center went silent, including Bortuzzo's teammates on the Blues bench.

 

[RELATED: Complete Sharks vs. Blues series coverage]

 

Indeed, there was a sense of disbelief.

Robert Bortuzzo? Really?

"I think everybody's jaw just dropped," Blues center Ryan O'Reilly said with a laugh. "It was like, 'Whoa, what just happened?' "

What just happened was Bortuzzo's goal at 16:34 of the second period, which broke a tie and proved to be the winner in the Blues' 4-2 victory in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final on Monday to tie the best-of-7 series 1-1.

Game 3 will be played at Enterprise Center on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN360, TVAS).

Another St. Louis win, another unlikely hero. This is what this team does, especially in three of its past four victories.

Video: STL@SJS, Gm2: Bortuzzo restores lead for Blues

Blues forward Pat Maroon, who had 10 goals in 74 regular-season games, scored at 5:50 of double overtime for a 2-1 win against the Dallas Stars in Game 7 of the second round May 7, propelling them to the conference final for the second time in four seasons. Maroon, a St. Louis native, also was the hero in a 4-3 victory in Game 3 of that series April 29, scoring the winner with 1:38 remaining in the third period.

Bortuzzo had not scored in the postseason at any level in 4,434 days; his previous goal came with Kitchener of the Ontario Hockey League on March 23, 2007.

He was intrigued when informed of that fact.

"You want to remind me who it was against? I don't know if you can have people who can dig that stuff up, but it was a while I'm sure," Bortuzzo said with a chuckle.

Video: STL@SJS, Gm2: Berube on Bortuzzo's goal, Game 2 win

He was informed it was against Sarnia.

Bortuzzo's coach with Kitchener at that time?

That would be Sharks coach Peter DeBoer, who watched the 30-year-old score the decisive goal against his team Monday.

There can't be too many more Cinderella stories in these playoffs, right?

Consider the numbers: Bortuzzo has 14 goals in 335 NHL regular-season games. He has three points (one goal, two assists) in 31 playoff games. Goals, let alone big ones, haven't exactly been prominent on his resume.

Until now.

"I jumped through a hole and (Joel Edmundson) found me and fortunately we were able to put it home," Bortuzzo said.

After the horn sounded and the completion of a television interview, Bortuzzo's teammates greeted him with joy and admiration when he walked into the locker room.

"I know he has some sneaky hands, but I haven't seen it in practice," O'Reilly said. "I'm sure he's going to be walking around with some swagger, and deservedly so. It was a huge moment."

Video: Clutch Performance: Bortuzzo gets first playoffs goal

He delivered another in the third period.

With the Blues clinging to a 3-2 lead, Sharks forward Kevin Labanc took a pass in the slot and blistered a one-timer.

It never reached the net thanks to Bortuzzo, who flung his 6-foot-4 frame down to the ice to block the shot.

Once again, his teammates were in awe.

"He's a gamer, absolutely," Blues center Brayden Schenn said. "He's a warrior, no matter the circumstances.

"In or out, he's a team guy, a locker room guy, a glue guy that you need on your team. When he has a big game like that tonight, you've got to be pumped for him."

Bortuzzo has played in eight of the Blues' 15 postseason games, in and out of the lineup as a third-pairing defenseman.

If he keeps this up, he'll find himself playing more regularly.

"You don't like not being in there," Bortuzzo said. "You have to take advantage of your opportunity when you get it."

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