In the third period of the Blues' 4-3 victory over Vancouver Thursday, the buckle on goalie Jake Allen's mask completely snapped off. So he did what he's supposed to do in that situation — he took off the mask.
What happened next was as frightening as any sequence you'll see in hockey.
Harking back to the days of goalies such as Gump Worsley, before former Blue Jacques Plante initiated the idea of netminders wearing masks in 1959, Allen stood in the crease prepared to literally face a shot with no protection.
His helmet was long gone when the Blues' Colton Parayko tried to stop Vancouver's Loui Eriksson from coming off the wall with the puck. He did, though, centering a pass to the slot, where Canucks right winger Jayson Megna leaned into a shot from the hash-marks, an estimated 15 feet from the crease.
"I don't think the (referees) saw it," Allen said. "The guy was right there, so I just sort of came out at him in case they didn't blow it."
Among his 18 saves Thursday, Allen made more athletic stops, but none more courageous. The puck hit his pads and finally a whistle blew to stop play with 13:50 left in regulation.
"It's pretty scary when the guy is coming down and he's ready to shoot," Blues coach Mike Yeo said. "In that area, where he was getting the puck, more often than not, they're shooting high, so that was a little bit scary for sure. He stood in there. He's crazy."
According to Section 3 Rule 9.3 of the NHL official rules, when the goalie loses or removes his mask, referees are required to immediately blow the dead if either the defending team has possession or if there is no impending scoring chance. In this case, with Allen's helmet off prior to the Canucks' possession, officials Gord Dwyer and Dan O'Halloran should have blown their whistles.
"I was banging on the boards," teammate Alexander Steen said. "They didn't see it in time."
That's what Allen was told by Dwyer after he made the save and skated over to the official for an explanation.
"He just said he didn't see," Allen said. "Once the play went up ice there, no one looked back. I was yelling, but out there it's tough to hear sometimes."
Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk also spoke to one of the officials, who added to the explanation.
"He thought there was too many men on the ice, so he was counting bodies," Shattenkirk said. "It's a tough play. It's one that luckily nothing bad comes out of it because that could have gone a lot of different ways. Scary, very scary."