Just five days after we wrote about their winning streak and the fact that they have a really challenging and season-defining period ahead of them, the St. Louis Blues continued to amaze the NHL fans.
They defeated Toronto Maple Leafs last night, after overtime, 3-2, and posted their 11th straight win. After a bad start of the season, almost nobody could see this coming.
“Oh gosh, it’s exciting. It’s fun hockey. We’re really enjoying it.” Ryan O’Reilly said.
The 28-year old center was the guy who decided the contest, as he scored the game-winning goal after only 34 seconds in the overtime. O’Reilly made a superb defensive effort, providing a 2-on-1 counter-attack for him and Vladimir Tarasenko, which he himself finished.
This was the 23rd goal for Blues’ center this season, and without a doubt the most important one.
But the real hero of the match was St. Louis’ goalie Jordan Binnington. The rookie had 31 saves, some of them unbelievable, and we could say that if weren’t for him in front of the net, the Blues wouldn’t win this event. That is a fact.
Whenever guests had the initiative, Binnington’s saves were bringing back the momentum on Blues’ side.
Maple Leafs players just couldn’t find a way to beat him when needed, and yet, they were giving everything they have.
Still, nothing happened.
“That goalie there is playing unbelievable. You saw how many chances he saved tonight that were pretty Grade A. He’s playing unbelievable for them,” said Mithell Marner, Toronto’s points leader this season.
The 25-year old now has 9 straight wins, setting the new franchise record for a rookie. By far, he is the best thing which could have happened to the franchise from Missouri this season. Their rise and the start of a fantastic streak began when he took over the goalie duties.
Though, the Maple Leafs managed to snap Binnington’s shutout run, which lasted for almost four games, to be exact 233:50 minutes. He needed only 24 minutes and 31 seconds to set a new franchise record, but unfortunately, Zach Hyman and Auston Matthews prevented him from accomplishing that.
The Blues were up 2-0 after the first period. Jaden Swartz after 10:13 and Colton Parayko seven and a half minutes later, lifted the hosts to a safe distance. After a fierce battle in the second sequence which ended without goals, the third period brought a shock for the home team fans. Hyman and Matthews scored two goals in the span of just 31 seconds, silencing the noisy crowd in Enterprise Center.
From that moment on, both sides had equal chances to win, but eventually, the Blues prevail.
Following three tough road games in which they haven’t allowed a goal, and defeated three direct rivals for the playoff spot, the Blues came home and had a chance to play in front of their fans.
They will have two days to heal and recover before heading back to work, against another team who has playoff ambitions, the Dallas Stars.
And when looking at the names of the upcoming opponents, we could say that it doesn’t get any easier for these guys. After that one, they face Bruins at home, Wild in Minnesota and Nashville Predators in St. Louis.
That last game will be the most important for coach Craig Berube’s team. Nashville is six points in ahead of the Blues at the moment but also has three more games played. Defeating them would increase the chances of moving up on the Western Conference standings and in the Atlantic Division.
For now, Blues are the hottest team and the hottest story of the NHL. For how long, nobody knows.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.