Perron's OT goal gives Blues comeback win

By Jim Thomas
St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS

ST. LOUIS - The Blues are used to winning, and winning often in the friendly confines of Enterprise Center.

Since Jan. 1, 2019, or right around the time they were last in the NHL prior to their Stanley Cup run, the Blues have the league’s third-best home winning percentage at .718.

This year? Not so much. Despite having one of the league’s best road records (6-2), the Blues have been treading water at home - 3-3-1 entering Thursday’s contest with the San Jose Sharks.

But with attendance bumped to over 2,000, the Blues got a little of that old home mojo working with a 3-2 overtime win over the Sharks on a David Perron goal with one minute left in OT.

If you looked closely, you could even see humans nestled among the hundreds of cardboard cutouts behind the team benches. They were cheering wildly after Perron’s goal saved a game that didn’t look like it was going the Blues’ way

Playing without the injured Colton Parayko, the Blues improved to 10-5-2 for the season, taking over the points lead (22) in the West Division ahead of idle Vegas. The Sharks, playing their 13th road game in 15 contests this season, fell to 6-7-2.

Playing a team other than the Arizona Coyotes for the first time since January, the Blues’ improving power play got on the board first. With Brent Burns off for interfering with David Perron, Mike Hoffman’s first power play as a Blue gave the home team a 1-0 lead at the 6:12 mark.

Oskar Sundqvist, stationed net front to the right of San Jose goalie Martin Jones, whacked a low shot off Jones’ pads. The rebound went right over to Hoffman, stationed to the left of Jones. Hoffman found the backdoor wide open for his sixth goal of the season. Five of the six have come at home.

The Blues’ forechecking was dominant for much of the first period, disrupting several San Jose attempts to get the puck out. The Sharks were minus one of their best puck-moving defenseman as well in the injured Erik Karlsson.

The Blues had some other prime chances in 5-on-5 play, by Sammy Blais in the early minutes and then Mackenzie MacEachern on a partial breakaway late in the period. But San Jose had its moments as well, including a dash to the net by Patrick Marleau and a re-direct by Noah Gregor that goalie Jordan Binnington was able to steer clear of danger as it trickled behind him.

There was a point during the first period when the Blues had a 10-4 advantage in shots on goal, but as the period wore on, San Jose’s checking picked up while St. Louis’ forechecking dipped in intensity.

The ice gradually starting tilting in San Jose’s direction, and that continued into the second period. Oh, the Blues still had plenty of sequences where they got their cycle game going in the offensive zone, but had trouble turning the possession time into opportunities.

The Sharks, meanwhile, kept pushing and it paid off in a tying and a go-ahead goal in the second period. The Blues were in the midst of one of those sequences with a lot of possession time, but not many true chances.

The Blues then lost possession when the puck went between Zach Sanford and Vince Dunn inside the blue line. Sanford must have thought Dunn had the puck; and Dunn vice versa. In any event, the Sharks swooped in for the puck and at the end of the sequence, the puck was past Binnington and the game tied 1-1.

Noah Gregor was the beneficiary of a fortuitous deflection off teammate Dylan Gambrell, who was in the near slot, to score a backdoor goal at the 8:27 mark.

The Sharks then took a 2-1 lead with 5:29 left in the period. The Blues were sloppy after a faceoff in their zone, and John Leonard, playing in only his ninth NHL game, slipped the puck between Binnington’s legs with a net-front shot for his second NHL goal. He had scored his first three days earlier against Anaheim.

Already down several forwards due to injury entering the game, Ivan Barbashev left the game a few minutes into the third period. Sanford was moved up to the O’Reilly line in his absence. The Blues started to pick up the pressure midway through the period, but still couldn’t solve Jones.

Unlike the Sharks, the Blues didn’t get much going on the inside. While the Sharks crashed the net towards Binnington whenever they had the opportunity, the Blues were unable or unwilling to get inside.

Jones, who was saddled with a 3.75 goals-against average and a .873 save percentage entering Thursday’s game, looked more like the guy with a 1.99 GAA and a .919 save percentage in his career against the Blues.

Or the guy who beat the Blues in a 2-1 shootout victory here on Jan. 20.

Things were looking bleak with the clock under a minute and Binnington pulled for an extra attacker, when Hoffman took a cross-ice pass from Perron and fired a shot off the chest of Jones. Brayden Schenn was there at the net to poke in the rebound for his team-leading eighth goal of the season with just 40 seconds left.

But then, on a rare overtime power play, Perron took a pass from Torey Krug and whipped a shot past Jones for the game winner.