The question that hung over the Blues going into their game Thursday against Vegas was how the team would handle their first game since teammate Jay Bouwmeester collapsed on the bench on Tuesday in Anaheim, Calif.
Zach Sanford was clearly ready.
In an emotional game for the team, Sanford scored four goals, giving him his first career hat trick and making him the first Blue to score four since David Backes in 2015, but the Blues gave up four power-play goals, including one in overtime, as the Golden Knights won 6-5 on Thursday in Las Vegas.
Jonathan Marchessault got his second goal of the night in overtime after Jaden Schwartz was called for hooking on a Marchessault breakaway. That set up the Golden Knights for another chance, and they took advantage of it, scoring for the fourth time in five power plays.
The Blues held on to first place in the Central Division because Colorado lost to Washington. The Blues got a point, so they're two points up on the Avalanche.
The Blues took a 4-3 lead into the third but Nate Schmidt tied it on Vegas' third power-play goal of the game 6:33 into the period. Sanford, though, put the Blues back in the lead with his fourth goal (and sixth in four games), setting up near the post and putting in a pass from Colton Parayko, giving him 12 on the season. At the start of February, he had six goals.
Alex Tuch scored a rare even-strength goal for Vegas with 4:40 to play to tie the game.
Sanford had two goals last Tuesday against Carolina and has eight goals in eight games since the All-Star break. It was the quickest hat trick for a Blue since Al MacInnis scored three times in the first period on Oct. 12, 1998. Backes had four goals against Arizona on Jan. 6, 2015.
Jordan Binnington was very busy in net, facing 52 shots, at least 14 in each full period and seven shots in 2 1/2 minutes of overtime. If not for Binnington's play in goal, the Blues wouldn't have gotten to overtime.
It took just 25 seconds for Sanford to score in the first, firing in a wrist shot from the left dot for the quickest goal for the Blues this season.
Vegas answered with two goals in about 4 1/2 minutes, both by Max Pacioretty. The first came just nine seconds into a power play, and the second came 6:34 into the period to make it 2-1.
Sanford evened the game with his 10th goal of the season. Robert Bortuzzo, back in the lineup because of Bouwmeester being out, took a shot that was blocked before it got to goalie Malcolm Subban, but Sanford grabbed the loose puck and with a nice forehand to backhand move put it in.
With 4:17 to go in the first, MacEachern had the puck brush past him after a tip by Ivan Barbashev of a Vince Dunn goal. The goal was initially given Barbashev, which would have given him goals in two straight games, sort of, since he scored before the Anaheim game was suspended. That goal, however, won't count as official until the game is completed.
At the time, the Blues had three goals on six shots on goal.
Just over five minutes into the second period, Sanford was in front of the net and put in a rebound of a shot by Alex Pietrangelo. Sanford is now tied for fifth on the Blues in goals.
Vegas cut the lead to one on a power-play goal by Jonathan Marchessault with 1:02 to go in the period. Ryan O'Reilly had broken his stick and Vegas was able to work the puck until Marchessault could get his shot.
Prior to the Blues' game on Thursday night in Las Vegas, the host Golden Knights invited their fans to come down and sign a get-well banner for Bouwmeester, who is still in a hospital in Orange County California, after his cardiac episode on Tuesday.
In Anaheim, where Bouwmeester collapsed on Tuesday, the Ducks and the Calgary Flames, Bouwmeester's former team, had their full teams line up on the blue lines to say "Get Well Soon Jay."
Ironically, there are only five players who don't have their fathers on this trip, and Sanford and Barbashev are two of them. Sanford's father died two years ago and Barbashev's is back in Russia. (Also without fathers on the trip are Kyrou, Troy Brouwer and Niko Mikkola, who was called up on Wednesday.) Sanford has been accompanied on the trip by his former college teammate Brett Glendye.