After a 2-2 first period, the St. Louis Blues and Detroit Blues — uh, make that Red Wings — stayed that way through a scoreless second, scoreless third and overtime.
The regular quota of three rounds in a shootout wasn’t enough either. But finally Lucas Raymond won it in the fourth round for Detroit, proving Joel Hofer — making his third consecutive start — is human after all.
The 3-2 Detroit victory left the Blues with points in three consecutive games and a season record of 32-33-6. They got rare goals from defensemen Robert Bortuzzo and Marco Scandella, but nothing from their forwards.
Detroit, winless in 10 of its previous 12 games, improved to 31-30-9.
The Blues, who managed only 17 shots in Sunday’s 3-0 victory over Winnipeg, had trouble generating chances again against a quick Detroit team. After two periods Jakub Vrana had four shots on goal, but no one else on the squad had more than one.
And as the clocked ticked past the midway mark of the third period, St. Louis had only 15 shots on goal. The Blues did manage to reach 19 shots after regulation to 28 for Detroit.
After an action-packed by scoreless overtime, it was on to the shootout.
Hardly a home game passes without some kind of tribute to a former Blue, and Tuesday was no different. First came a quick “Welcome back Jake and Ville” on the Enterprise Center video board for former Blues Walman and Husso. Warm applause.
But the headliner came later in the first period, during a break with 8 ½ minutes left. That’s when the crowd stood and gave David Perron a lengthy standing ovation during a video tribute for his first game back in St. Louis since signing with Detroit as a free agent in the offseason.
Perron, of course, has had three stints with the Blues over the years including four seasons most recently from 2018-19 through the 2021-22 season.
“He’s a highly competitive guy. I think that stands out most for me, is his competitiveness as a player and a person,” coach Craig Berube said after the morning skate. “And that’s what drives him, and that’s why he’s still playing the game and still producing at a later stage in his career.
“Great shot for sure. I didn’t know him when he was younger but when I had him here he was a vocal leader in the locker room and on the bench.”
Perron, 34, had a nifty assist on a power play for Detroit’s first goal — feeding Alex Chiasson for an easy backdoor score. There were some Red Wings jerseys in the stands Tuesday, and there were loud cheers when it was announced that Perron had an assist on the play. Some of those cheering, just might have been Blues fans.
Seeing a Robert Bortuzzo goal is almost like spotting a unicorn. And early in the first period, there was a unicorn sighting at Enterprise. Bortuzzo had position in the right faceoff circle, and thought about passing.
Instead he skated in toward the goal and no one picked him up. So he kept going and with some deft puck-handling beat Detroit goalie Magnus Hellberg with a backhand, giving St. Louis a 1-0 lead just 2:21 into the game.
It was Bortuzzo’s second goal of the season and the 20th of his NHL career, which has spanned 530 games and 12 seasons. Brayden Schenn had the secondary assist on the play, giving him 200 assists during his time with the Blues.
Not to be undone, Marco Scandella scored his first goal of the season to give the Blues a 2-1 lead midway through the first. It was a shot from distance that seemed to fool Hellberg.
It marked only the seventh time the Blues have gotten two goals by their defensemen in a game this season, and the first time since Feb. 11 against Arizona.
But the Blues couldn’t get out of the period with the lead. Off a faceoff in their offensive zone, an attempted pass was deflected right to Filip Zadina for a backdoor goal in which Hofer didn’t have a chance.
Stuck in neutral
It remained 2-2 after two periods with a lot of play in the neutral zone as neither team could sustain much offensively. The shots were only 15-11 in favor of Detroit after 40 minutes, with the Blues managing only four shots on goal in the second period.
Detroit’s best chance came in the closing seconds of the second, when Lucas Raymond walked in on Hofer and flipped a backhand that trickled behind the Blues goalie, but didn’t go in. Before a Red Wings player could get there, Hofer turned and smothered the puck.
Midway through the period, Detroit’s Joe Veleno had a breakaway, but lost control of the puck just as he reached the net front.
The Blues had three power plays through two periods, but looked ragged on the first two. Out of those six minutes with the man advantage, the Blues had two very good chances – both shots from the near slot by Vrana – but got nothing to show for it.