Upshall’s goal lifts Blues past Hurricanes
ST. LOUIS — When the St. Louis Blues made the decision to go with a lineup of 11 forwards and seven defensemen on Saturday night, they knew it would create some different line combinations.
Luckily for the Blues, that’s how Scottie Upshall ended up on a line in the third period with Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko.
He responded by converting a pass from Schenn for a goal that broke a tie and gave the Blues a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
“It was definitely a great opportunity for everyone to kind of step up and take on more responsibility and play in more situations,” Upshall said. “It’s definitely a character win. I think we’ve deserved more than we’ve been getting (in recent games) and tonight we were rewarded.”
The win was only the second in their last seven games for the Blues and was the first time they scored three goals in regulation, not counting an empty-net goal, in their last 11 games.
“You keep your head down and you work hard when you get the opportunity,” Upshall said. “You just make the best of it. Those two guys have been right there for the last few weeks just haven’t been scoring. Tonight was an opportunity that everyone just ran with.
“I yelled to him (Schenn) and he made an incredible no-look pass that put me in a great shooting spot and I was able to put one in.”
One of Upshall’s usual linemates, Kyle Brodziak, scored just 43 seconds into the game and Patrik Berglund converted a two-on-one break with Alex Pietrangelo 42 seconds into the second period to give the Blues a 2-0 lead.
They missed a chance to add to the lead when they had a power play in the second period after a shot by Colton Parayko knocked the stick out of goalie Scott Darling’s hands and he was unable to retrieve it for more than a minute, but the Blues could not get a shot on goal.
Just 10 seconds after the penalty to Derek Ryan ended, he scored to cut the lead to 2-1 and a goal later in the period by Lucas Wallmark, the first in his NHL career, tied the score.
“It’s a big goal for me and for the team there,’ said Wallmark, who played eight games last year but was making his season debut after being called up from the minors on Friday. “It’s fun to see the puck get into the net there.”
It was more fun for the Blues to see Upshall’s goal.
“You see a guy like Uppie move up and he got a chance and he delivered,” Brodziak said. “He’s been a guy throughout his career who’s found a way to get the job done and he did a huge job for us tonight.”
The Blues had to sweat out a delay of game penalty to Brodziak with 1:12 to play, which put the Hurricanes on a six-on-four power play with Darling already off the ice for an extra attacker.
“It was just a weird play,” Brodziak said. “I honestly just reacted to it and tried to hit it out of the way and it went up into the stands. The guys held the fort. You know they are going to throw everything at the net. Those are tense moments.”
The win closed out a December that saw the Blues play 16 games, going 7-8-1.
“It was a tough month,” Brodziak said. “We had some trouble scoring goals. We know we are a better team than we’ve shown in the last month. We’ve got to build it back up again.”
The loss snapped a season-high four-game winning streak for the Hurricanes and was only their second loss in their last nine games.
“I think we’re on a bit of a roll,” Ryan said. “We’re playing good hockey and we’ve beat some good teams lately so we’ve got to continue to do what’s made us successful in these past nine games.
“We just can’t get away from our game like we did in the first period. We have to put together a full 60 minutes and make sure we do that on a consistent effort. It’s hard to do.”
NOTES: The Blues activated D Jay Bouwmeester from injured reserve and assigned D Jordan Schmaltz to San Antonio of the AHL. Bouwmeester has played in only 11 of the Blues’ first 41 games. ... C Lucas Wallmark, who played eight games last season, replaced LW Phillip Di Guseppe in the Hurricanes’ lineup. ... Carolina G Scott Darling played in his 100th career game. ... The Hurricanes return home to play the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night. The Blues’ homestand continues Tuesday night against the New Jersey Devils.