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What a game – end to end stuff. Both teams playing great hockey and, to be honest, the Blues played the best hockey they’ve played all season. What made the difference though, was not Alex Ovechkin. The difference maker was Chris Mason. Mason was sublime – especially in the shootout which led Darren Pang to make the comment of “he could stop a pea through fog right now”. Another “Pangism” to add to the ever increasing collection.
The Blues were the first on the board about midway through the first period. Great work by Roman Polak – who had a fantastic game, managing to keep Ovechkin under wraps – who worked the puck from behind the Capitals net and laid a brilliant pass to an open Patrik Berglund. Berglund made no mistake and the Blues were 1-0 up. Mike Knuble levelled it less than 2 minutes later during a 5 on 3 powerplay. Apart from the goals, there was another talking point during the first period. The Capitals’ Matt Bradley was too busy admiring his pass when he was levelled by Cam Janssen. A fight developed between Janssen and Quintin Laing and, when the dust had settled, the officials gave a few mystifying penalties. Laing got 5 minutes for fighting; 2 for instigator; 2 for unsportsmanlike conduct and a 10 minute misconduct penalty. Janssen, on the other hand, was given 5 minutes for fighting; 5 minutes for “interference” of all things and a game misconduct which saw him ejected from the game. Unbelievable. At least this time, BOTH teams saw very strange calls from the officials.
The second period was a bit of a goalfest. A two on one breakaway and brilliant pass across ice from Paul Kariya saw TJ Oshie put the Blues 2-1 up. Less than three minutes later, an unstoppable wrist shot from Alex Semin tied the game for the Capitals. The Blues went ahead again on a powerplay goal from Erik Johnson that really zipped past Theodore in the Capitals net. Once again, the lead lasted less than three minutes as the Capitals tied the game late in the third with a powerplay goal from Mike Knuble.
The Blues pressed hard in the third period, outshooting the Capitals 12-7 but they couldn’t find a way past Theodore. Ovechkin had his chances for Washington but was stifled by either Mason or Polak. With 9 shots between the two teams in overtime, the game headed into the shootout. This was where Chris Mason came into his own and elevated his game once again.
Surprisingly, Patrik Berglund was first up for the Blues and his shot was directly at Theodore who made an easy save. Chris Mason then kept the shootout at 0-0 by making a superb gloved save on Alex Semin. Next up for the Blues was TJ Oshie – who tied Theodore in knots but the puck just slid off his stick and went wide. Boos greeted Ovechkin who has only scored 1 out of 5 shootout attempts. Better make that 1 out of 6 as he was blanked by Chris Mason. Brad Boyes was next Blues shooter – and having had three game winning shootout goals, the Blues must have felt confident. Boyes, like Berglund, tried to go five-hole on Theodore but once again, the Capitals goaltender read it all the way and casually brushed it aside. With Chris Mason making a pad save on Backstrom, we were into sudden death.
David Perron took the ice and put the Blues 1-0 up in the shootout with a shot that hit the post, then the back of Theodore before bouncing into the net. Lucky? Maybe. But they all count. So, it came down to Brendan Morrison against Chris Mason. Mason was in the groove though – and made a pad save on Morrison. As the puck flipped up, Mason casually caught it in his glove. Cue celebratory scenes reminiscent of the last season against the Blue Jackets when the Blues made the playoffs.
A well deserved two points for the Blues, taking their winning streak to three games. Kudos in particular to Chris Mason, Roman Polak and TJ Oshie. Okay, your game reports:
- The Blues Official Site has the recap, game and shootout highlights and interviews with Chris Mason, TJ Oshie, David Perron and Davis Payne.
- St Louis Game Time wrap up the game and think maybe this is the turning point. It’s also worth checking out the game day thread.
- Jeremy Rutherford of the Post Dispatch notes that the Blues have won three in a row with comments from Davis Payne, David Perron and Chris Mason.
With the Olympic break, there is no more Blues hockey now until March. However, keep your eyes on Team USA at the Olympics with Erik Johnson and David Backes. The Czech Republic are worth a cheer as they have Roman Polak in their squad and Chris Mason is on reserve for Team Canada.