ST. LOUIS — This game was a study in perseverance. Down 3-0 before they could break a sweat, the Blues chipped away to force overtime against the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
But Jordan Binnington recovered from a horrendous start. He was a rock in extra time, stopping all three Tampa Bay shots in overtime and all three Lightning shootout attempts.
Captain Ryan O’Reilly, who has said on more than once occasion that his hands weren’t working after he returned from COVID, scored the game winner — with the only shootout goal by either team in a 4-3 Blues victory at Enterprise Center.
So the Blues, now 12-7-3 for the season, have now beaten Tampa Bay five straight times dating back to their Stanley Cup season. The Lightning haven’t beaten St. Louis since 2017 — that’s right four years ago.
And you thought the Blues came out flat Saturday against Columbus.
On Tuesday at Enterprise, it was 3-0 Tampa Bay before some fans had finished that first beer.
The first two goals came with Lightning players all over the Blues’ net front. And the Blues doing next to nothing to keep the area clean.
First it was Anthony Cirelli on a strange sequence in which goalie Binnington couldn’t control a shot from Cirelli that trickled in behind Binnington two minutes two seconds into the game. Then with Oskar Sundqvist off for slashing, former longtime Anaheim Duck Corey Perry scored a power-play goal on a net-front tap-in at the 5:24 mark.
Just five seconds later, off the ensuing faceoff, Erik Cernak dumped in the puck, it ricocheted off the glass and headed toward the goal at a 90-degree angle. Binnington badly misplayed the puck which hit his right pad and trickled in between his legs at the 5:29 mark.
It looked like Binnington didn’t see where the puck was until the very last instant, when it was right on him. So it was two goals in just five seconds, a franchise record for the Lightning.