Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/6/13
The last time the Blues and Montreal were on the ice at the Bell Centre, some fans were cheering for visiting goalie Jaroslav Halak. Not this time. With 48 seconds left to play in regulation, Halak was squaring up to face a penalty shot by Montreal’s Tomas Plekanec, with the game on the line. Blues captain David Backes was whistled for delay of game, after knocking the net off its moorings, and with Plekanec in possession of the puck, he was sent to center ice with a chance to ice the win for the Canadiens. The crowd rose to its feet in anticipation, but Plekanec’s shot went off Halak’s stick and out of play. The game went to a shootout, where once again a goal by T.J. Oshie was the difference, leading the Blues to a 3-2 shootout victory. Oshie is Mr. Automatic this season in the shootout, improving to three for three, allowing the visitors to win their fourth consecutive game in Montreal. The Blues, who will return home to host Calgary on Thursday, escaped narrowly. They were in jeopardy of falling when Backes skated into the crease, attempted to avoid Halak and lifted the net off. NHL rules say that a delay of game penalty, in which the net is displaced with under two minutes remaining in regulation, leads to a penalty shot. “I was a little sick to my stomach at the moment,” Backes said. “You never want to put your team in any situation like that. Jaro bails me out, and it’s really a non-issue at the end. If the penalty shot goes the other way, there’s a little more steam coming out of my ears.” Plekanec peeled back his ears and headed for Halak on the penalty shot. But Halak got a piece of it, running his record to 3-0 against Montreal since the Canadiens traded him to the Blues. “I just went to stop it and luckily I did,” Halak said. “It just hit my stick and stayed out.” The Blues had picked up the game-tying goal by Chris Stewart in the third period and overcome a Montreal power play with 6 minutes left to play in regulation. The Blues were trailing 2-1 entering the third period, but Stewart netted his second goal of the season with 9:22 remaining. Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk took aim at Montreal goalie Carey Price and Stewart deflected his shot past Price for the equalizer, rewarding a 12-shot third-period buzz by the Blues. “Stewie was one of our best forwards by far,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “He was competitive, hard on the puck, dangerous offensively. If this is the level that he’s going to play at, it’s a good level.” Before that, Alexander Steen was the only Blue able to provide offense. He gave the club a 1-0 lead just over 2½ minutes into the game with his 13th goal in 13 games this season. Backes shamed Montreal defenseman Douglas Murray behind the Canadiens’ net, picking his pocket and passing to a wide-open Steen in the slot. Of the Blues’ last 22 goals at that point, Steen had nine of them. The Blues, who entered the game with the NHL’s No. 1 power play, were 0 for four with the man-advantage Tuesday and are now in a season-long 0-for-eight dry spell. In the second period, Price robbed Stewart on a point-blank shot and just 1:26 later, the Canadiens capitalized. From the corner, defenseman Andrei Markov drove the side of the net and bullied his way through the crease. Halak made the stop but was brushed by Markov and couldn’t recover. Rene Bourque pounced on the puck and scored into the open net for a 1-1 tie 5:38 into the second period. Blues trainer Ray Barile tended to Halak briefly, but the goaltender was fine and stayed in the game. His shutout streak against his former team, however, was not fine, ending at 133:08. Later in the period, Montreal caught a break and took its first lead.
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