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Blues defensemen play key role in offensive success

Parayko’s game-winning goal was the second in his career, leading to his sixth goal in February
Credit: AP
St. Louis Blues' Colton Parayko (55) celebrates his goal during the second period of the team's NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday Feb. 4, 2020, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Scott Kane)

ST. LOUIS — On Thursday, the St. Louis Blues won their second game in a row by one goal, but the process of getting to that win in each game was much different.

The Blues allowed the game Tuesday to turn into a track meet with the Chicago Blackhawks. There was no structure, and the Blues ditched their original game plan. By the end of the game, all that mattered was that they do whatever it takes to snatch two points. That’s exactly what they did -- six goals later.

Things were different when St. Louis faced the New York Islanders on Thursday.

Once again, the Blues were off to a slow start in the first period, with no sense of urgency.

The Islanders took a 2-0 lead before the Blues finally got clicking. Then, it was all St. Louis for the next 60 minutes of hockey.

The Blues managed to hold the Islanders to one shot in the second period, outshooting them 10-1, but that still didn’t ignite enough offensive pressure.

After a handful of games with offense firing on all cylinders, things died off. Blues forward Brayden Schenn scored the Blues first goal to get St. Louis on the board, but that was the only goal of the night by a Blues forward.

Blues defenseman Vince Dunn scored with less than three minutes left to push the game into overtime. And perhaps that’s where the biggest storyline began.

Blues defenseman Colton Parayko controlled the puck for the majority of overtime play doing what he does best. Parayko took the puck back-side, wrapping around the net with a stutter step to throw off the goalie’s balance before sliding it in between the pipe and the goaltender’s pad.

This wasn’t a play, or celebration, you see often from Parayko … or any defenseman.

“You don’t expect it in overtime,” Blues head coach Craig Berube said. “You would think he would probably come out the other side and set it up or something. But yeah, he just reacted to a situation and scored a goal.”

“I didn’t see that one coming, but hey, good defensive play by him,” Schenn said. “Get his feet moving and wraparound in O-T, you don’t see that very often. But hey, it went in and obviously a huge goal by him.”

Parayko’s game-winning goal was the second in his career, leading to his sixth goal in the month of February.

While the Blues didn’t play their style of game on Tuesday or Thursday, they managed to find ways to win because that’s what good teams do. Call it resilient effort, call it luck, or call it depth.

The Blues won the Stanley Cup in 2019 because every single player on the ice brought an element that enhanced the game. On Tuesday, young talent like Robert Thomas and Zach Sanford combined for three goals.

On Thursday, the story was defense. Whether it be defenseman holding a team to one shot on net in 20 minutes of play, or two defensemen getting up in the mix in the offensive zone and contributing to crucial goals. Every player on this team plays a significant role.

Perhaps the most important concept moving forward is consistency. Whether it's consistent goal-scoring, consistent defensive structure, or consistent contribution from depth pieces.

The Blues face the Dallas Stars Saturday in another central division match up. The Blues currently lead the central division with 86 points, followed by the Colorado Avalanche, who sit at second in the central with 81 points.

ST. LOUIS - Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester addressed the media and fans in person for the first time since his 'cardiac episode' on the bench in Anaheim earlier in February. Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong announced during the press conference that Bouwmeester would not play for the team the rest of the regular season or playoffs.

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