- Greg Wyshynski is ESPN’s senior NHL writer.
It took six games, but the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues finally tasted victory in the NHL’s restarted postseason.
Brayden Schenn’s breakaway goal at 15:06 of overtime gave the Blues a 3-2 victory and cut the Vancouver Canucks’ series lead to 2-1 in their Western Conference quarterfinal series.
It was the first win for St. Louis since entering the Edmonton bubble; the Blues went 0-2-1 in round-robin play and dropped the first two games of their series vs. Vancouver.
Game 4 is Monday night.
“All three games have been tight. We ended up getting the winner tonight,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “You gotta get your breaks here and there, and we scored more than them tonight.”
The Blues made significant lineup changes after their Game 2 loss. Forwards Vladimir Tarasenko, who had yet to record a point in four postseason games, and Alexander Steen both sat and were “unfit to play,” according to Berube.
The coach also benched starting goalie Jordan Binnington, who had a .862 save percentage and an 0-4-0 record in the restart.
“We hadn’t got a win yet, so change it up,” Berube said.
Goalie Jake Allen was stellar in Game 3, making 39 saves.
“He was exceptional. We have two really good goalies, and it’s up to the coach who plays in the back-to-back,” said Blues winger David Perron, who scored his fourth goal of the postseason.
The Blues played well in front of him, too, with the kind of dominating forecheck and puck possession game that led them to the championship last season. St. Louis had 91 shot attempts in the game at 5-on-5, while Vancouver had 53.
“They were better tonight. We knew they were going to come. They’re the defending Stanley Cup champs for a reason,” said Canucks captain Bo Horvat. “They know what it takes to win and they aren’t going to shy away from a fight.”
Schenn’s overtime winner came right after he hopped the boards and replaced teammate Jaden Schwartz on a change.
“Lucky bounce. The puck kinda popped right to the middle there,” Schenn said.
It was the second straight overtime game in this tightly played series. Only this time, it was the veteran Blues getting the win over their more inexperienced opponents from Vancouver.
“We have to have short-term memory loss,” said Horvat. “The good thing is that we play again tomorrow.”
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