The St. Louis Blues were already facing a difficult challenge against the rival Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night, playing for the second time in two nights and after travel issues that forced them to bus from Milwaukee.
The task was even more difficult with a three-goal deficit after allowing five goals in the opening 20 minutes.
But the Blues rallied, tied the score with a strong second period and then emerged with 6-5 overtime victory that will go down as one of the most memorable comeback wins in years.
“It’s a real courageous win,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock told reporters. “With the day or night or whatever you want to call it, to come back and play with the energy that we did in the second period, I thought the second period was one of the best periods we played all year. Guys deserve a lot of credit. We had every reason to live to fight another day, but the guys wanted to dig in, and the guys did that.”
Alexander Steen scored twice for the Blues (9-3-1, 19 points), who also got goals from David Backes, Jay Bouwmeester, Robby Fabbri and then Vladimir Tarasenko, who netted the game-winner with 1:06 remaining in the 3-on-3 overtime session. Colton Parayko and Alex Pietrangelo added two assists apiece.
Starting goalie Brian Elliott allowed four goals on just 15 shots in the first period and exited the game with an injury after a collision with Jonathan Toews after the Blackhawks captain was checked into the net by Backes.
Jake Allen, who allowed two goals in the 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night, stopped 27 of 28 shots in relief of Elliott to win his fifth game of the season.
The Blackhawks (7-5-1, 15 points), who had won six straight at United Center, got goals from Marko Dano, Andrew Shaw, Teuvo Teravainen, Brent Seabrook and Patrick Kane — all in the first period.
Trailing 5-2 after 20 minutes, the Blues tied the score in the second period with goals from Steen, Bouwmeester and Backes. Steen’s goal was his seventh of the season, which took over the team lead from Tarasenko temporarily.
After combining for 10 goals in the first two periods, neither team scored in the third. The Blues spent four minutes on the power play after tripping and hooking penalties by Steen, but the Blackhawks couldn’t take advantage.
Chicago recorded 25 shots after the first period but couldn’t score another goal on Allen, who now has a .935 save percentage in eight games. That the Blues were able to get to overtime, guaranteeing at least one point, was a victory after their travel troubles and poor first period.
“Regardless of what happened in the 3 on 3, to take this game into overtime, our players deserve a lot of credit for what they did,” Hitchcock said.
Tarasenko helped them secure two points against their Central Division rivals after taking a behind-the-back centering pass from Pietrangelo and beating goalie Corey Crawford on the glove side for his seventh goal.
“No question, we had an uphill battle,” Backes told reporters. “We found a way tonight, giving up forty-some shots and still finding a way.”