VANCOUVER, British Columbia • There was a lot packed into the point the Blues left Vancouver with Sunday after their 6-5 shootout loss to the Canucks.
The Blues blew a two-goal lead by surrendering five unanswered to Vancouver, but then erased a three-goal deficit in the final 11 minutes, 42 seconds of regulation to send the game to overtime. In OT, the Blues nearly won twice when both T.J. Oshie and Jay Bouwmeester had shots hit the post. The game went to a shootout, where the Canucks scored on all three of their chances against goaltender Jake Allen, who was making a surprising second appearance in the game.
The Blues' comeback fell short, but with one point, they climbed to within four of first-place Nashville, 89-85.
"We deserved a lot better fate," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We had a little bit of a spurt where we struggled, but we played great. The second game back-to-back, played a hell of a hockey game. A lesser team would folded it up, but we came back and pounded on it hard in the third period and then should have won it in overtime with the two we drilled by them. We played a whale of a hockey game. This is one of those games, even though we lost, it feels like a tie, it doesn't feel like a loss."
Sunday's game took many twist and turns, beginning with the Blues taking a 2-0 lead on goals by Ryan Reaves and Alex Pietrangelo in the opening six minutes of the game.
Reaves extended his career high to six goals when he beat Vancouver goalie Eddie Lack just 3:02 into the first period. Pietrangelo then added his sixth, finishing off a pretty tic-tac-toe passing sequence from David Backes and T.J. Oshie.
The Blues had two goals on six shots, but their momentum fell apart quickly, as Vancouver tied the score, 2-2, in a matter of 3:41.
Shawn Matthias converted a 2-on-1 rush against the Blues for a 2-1 deficit and Yannick Weber knotted the score on a slap shot with 10:20 left in the first period.
"It's a two-goal lead, you want to stay on the gas, not let them have any air, but not the case there, they were able to battle back," Blues captain David Backes said.
The game pivoted on a controversial goal in the second period.
Jannik Hansen flipped a puck on net that Allen got a piece of, leading to a whistle. But it squeaked behind Allen and he appeared to knock it into the net with his left leg.
"That's a goal that should never go in in this league, and not much more I can say," Allen said. "I thought the whistle was blown, but I couldn't tell where the puck was. They make the calls in Toronto, so that was their call."
Officials never signaled a goal on the ice, but conferred as a group and then went to the video review system in Toronto for assistance. It was deemed a good goal, allowing the Canucks to open a 3-2 lead with 9:45 left in the second period.
In an email, the NHL situation room explained that "the four on-ice officials huddled and determined that the original shot by Jannik Hansen completely crossed the St. Louis goal line. Video review supported the final on-ice decision."
Hitchcock didn't argue.
"We were told that regardless where the whistle was, if the puck enters the net, it's a goal," he said. "I mean, it was a goal. What do you say? It was a goal. Whether the guy is blowing the whistle or not, the goalie is not thinking that he's blowing the whistle. He's trying to make the save."
Vancouver had its first lead and added to it with the team's fourth unanswered goal by Henrik Sedin, a rebound shot for a 4-2 lead with 2:08 left in the second period.
The Blues came out for the third period behind Brian Elliott, not Allen, who at that point had allowed four goals on 21 shots. But Elliott didn't last long, allowing a goal to Vancouver's Nick Bonino 6:07 into the period, handing the Canucks a 5-2 advantage.
The game resumed and then after the next TV break, Hitchcock again summoned Allen, who started putting his gear back on before Elliott started skating back to the bench.
"When (Elliott) came out, it was 5-2," Hitchcock said. "I was thinking, 'Now all I need to do is get him hurt.' I put him in because I thought we had great spirit going into the third and had a chance to win the hockey game. That was me. That's my call."
Elliott had a brief exchange with Hitchcock, then disappeared.
"He was mad he was coming out," Hitchcock said. "I told him just relax. He's fine."
Elliott was not available for comment after the game.
The Blues did show "great spirit" in the third period. They put together a three-goal rally that tied the game with, 5-5, with 4:29 remaining in regulation.
Dmitrij Jaskin cut the Canucks' lead to 5-3 with a power-play goal, his 11th of the season, with 11:42 left to play. Petteri Lindbohm inched the club closer, 5-4, with his second-career goal with 5:41 to go, and then David Backes helped send the game to overtime with his 21st of the season.
"It was time to either put up or shut up," Backes said. "We showed a lot of character battling back there."
Allen included, helping send the game to overtime, where he then made a monumental save on a Vancouver breakaway. But in the shootout, where he had stopped 13 of 14 in his career, the netminder failed to come up with a save.
Allen admitted to be emotionally spent after returning to the game unexpectedly.
"I've never experienced that before, really weird, odd ... felt a little uncomfortable," he said. "Usually pretty good in shootouts, I was just mentally out of it a little bit. (But) you can't say enough about the guys — three goals down with 12 minutes left and you get a point."