It’s only fitting that the St. Louis Blues would force a tie-breaking Game 7 against the Arizona Coyotes in this bizarre stretch. It’s a spoiled debut for Arizona’s Reverse Retro threads, though the Coyotes offense certainly appeared comfortable throughout Saturday night. In a night full of scoring, both teams walk away with a point in the 5-4 overtime match.
Conor Garland got the scoring started real quick, only 21 seconds in, pick-pocketing Torrey Krug in the high slot before beating Binnington on his stick side with a wrister. The unassisted tally is his team-leading 14th point, breaking his tie with Christian Dvorak.
Conor Garland in Reverse Retro.— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) February 14, 2021
You're going to want to watch this one on repeat. pic.twitter.com/OEoMknL6Au
It took Antti Raanta almost 5 minutes to see his first shot in his third start of the season. His second one moments later would get the Blues on the board. Barrett Hayton was stripped near the Coyotes goal line board by Jacob de la Rose, who finds Kyle Clifford all alone on the left dot. Raanta has little chance on the high-stick-side snipe.
St. Louis would break the tie at the 13:22 mark, on an overloaded rush on the right side. Barbashev draws two Coyote defenders and finds Zach Sanford for a one-timer behind a good Poganski screen, 2-1 Blues.
The last good chance of the first period came off the stick of Clayton Keller. Coyotes win a clean faceoff. Chychrun then carries the puck below the Blues goal line, and find Kellers, but Ville Husso saves it point blank to keep the lead.
Good energy both ways to start the second, as both teams drive some solid possession, but no dangerous chances for the first 5 minutes.
The Coyotes would break the lull at the 5:27 mark. A strong rush led by Clayton Keller, who then finds Barrett Hayton trailing on the play. With Garland screening on the play, Hayton deposits a wrister top-shelf tying the game.
Born in 2000, but scores on '90s Night anyway. pic.twitter.com/IvMEwTneiS— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) February 14, 2021
The Blues would get the lead back moments later. A strong forecheck for the Blues top line of Barbashev - O’Reilly - Perron. Perron feeds it to O’Reilly for a strong shot saved by Raanta, but Barbashev is Johnny-on-the-spot for the easy rebound.
The Short-Leash Line would do their part next leading up to the halfway point, with a solid near-minute-and-a-half of the Coyotes driving play in the Blues zone. The best chance would come from a sweet feed from Garland, finding Jason Demers in the slot, but his backhand would go wide.
Some more back-and-forth for the second half of the second frame, but neither breaking through until the 17:00 mark — Oesterle generating a head of steam after some good puck cycling from Dvorak and Kessel. He throws it to the net, where it almost goes in off Vince Dunn’s skate. Dunn and Husso both hit the ice in the ensuing puck scramble. Despite that, no one could get the meaty rebound past the mass of bodies.
The ensuing face-off leads to another chance from Conor Garland, who beats Husso with a slick dangle, but not enough elevation on the backhand.
Coyotes drive possession to start the third period, but Ekman-Larsson has a costly turnover at the goal line. Hoffman steals it, then feeds to a 2-on-0 with Kyrou and Schenn, but Schenn can’t quite handle it.
Then, it’s the “Short Leash” Line's time! The Keller-Schmaltz-Garland unit continued winning board battles and moving the puck well, as Keller gets it to Ekman-Larsson at the point who fires, hitting Demers stick on a re-direct. The puck magically ends up right between Schmaltz and an uncovered net. He doesn’t miss. Tie game.
Light up a stage and wax a chump like a candle. pic.twitter.com/DZPVIsv4z3— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) February 14, 2021
The Blues responded to the tying tally with some good chances and energy. They generate a majority of chances for the next stretch, but the Coyotes defense withstands the counterpunches, breaking up some key opportunities, with Raanta making the resulting easy saves.
The Coyotes bend-don’t-break pays off at the 8:43 mark. After a strong forecheck, Christian Fischer gets the puck on the doorstep, and Dryden Hunt is the first one there to send it home.
But, the Blues aren’t easily shaken. St. Louis gets a good rush after Ilya Lyubushkin blows a tire near mid-ice, and it’s Kyrou’s wrister that ties it again, 4-4.
It appeared as if the Blues would retake the lead off a redirect from the point, but the puck was played with an illegal — albeit impressive high stick from Barbashev.
The last four minutes of regulation were mostly spent in the Blues zone, with all the Coyotes lines having at least a decent shift, but to overtime, it goes.
From there, it’s Mike Hoffman with the game-winner, beating Raanta high glove side from the left face-off dot. So the Coyotes’ valiant effort results in a consolation point.
- Conor Garland doing thankless work, screening on the Hayton and Schmaltz goals but receiving no assists for either. He may be one of hockey’s best bargains and is playing elite hockey right now.
- Jason Demers in for the injured Niklas Hjalmarsson, after a healthy scratch last night. He played 20:01 in this game.
- Hudson Fasching gets his first game of the season.
- The Blues were without Jaden Schwartz, sidelined with a lower-body injury.
- 30 shots through 2 periods is the most for the Coyotes this season.
- Blues are now 8-0-0 when leading after two periods this season.
- This is Antti Raanta’s first loss of the season.
- Ekman-Larsson’s assist on the Schmaltz goal is his first point since returning from injury.
- Points in two straight for Barrett Hayton.
- Schmaltz-Garland-Chychrun took the ice first for the 3v3 period.
- For the Blues’ perspective, check out St. Louis Game Time.
- Mike Hoffman (STL) - Game-tying assist, game-winning goal.
- Conor Garland (ARI) - Scorer of one goal, factor in two others in 18:10 of ice time.
- Ivan Barbashev (STL) - Goal, assist
The series-deciding Game 7 is Monday, February 15 at Glendale’s Gila River Arena. It’s an early one, with puck drop at 2 p.m. MT.