Ryan O’Reilly leads furious St. Louis Blues attack to even series at 2

Ryan O'Reilly #90 of the St. Louis Blues (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
Ryan O'Reilly #90 of the St. Louis Blues (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images) /

The St. Louis Blues have fought back from a 2-0 series deficit to tie their series against the Vancouver Canucks at two games apiece.

Ryan O’Reilly had two goals and an assist to lead the dominant St. Louis Blues to a Game 4 victory over the Vancouver Canucks by a score of 3-1. Their best of seven first-round series is now tied at two games apiece.

The Blues dominated the entire game. It took them a while, but they’re finally looking like the defending Stanley Cup champions, the team with the top record in the Western Conference this season, and the more experienced playoff team that they are.

O’Reilly scored the game’s first goal on the power play with 3:17 left in a tightly contested first period. Alex Pietrangelo missed a shot from the point wide left of the net. The puck bounced hard off the boards and deflected right to a waiting O’Reilly, who went top shelf over a sprawled out Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom for the goal.

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The power play opportunity came when Canucks forward Brock Boeser was called for slashing Marco Scandella, ending the power play the Canucks were on at that point. It was the first time all series the Blues scored first.

Canucks forward J.T. Miller scored 40 seconds into the second period to tie the game at 1. Pietrangelo failed to clear the defensive zone from behind the net. Alexander Edler intercepted the clear attempt at the blue line and shoot it on net. Miller deflected the shot and past Blues goaltender Jake Allen for Miller’s 4th goal of the playoffs.

From that point forward, the Blues would put a stranglehold on Game 4 and never look back. O’Reilly scored his second goal of the game 6:52 into the second period. David Perron passed to a wide-open O’Reilly from the corner and O’Reilly finessed his way to the front of the net, beating Markstrom high glove side with a backhander. O’Reilly’s third goal of the playoffs would end up being the game-winning goal.

The Blues would add another power play goal with 4:13 left to go in the second period. With Zack MacEwen in the penalty box for colliding into goaltender Jake Allen, Oscar Fantenberg sent Robert Thomas into the boards from behind on the penalty kill, leading to a 5 on 3 opportunity.

O’Reilly gained possession of his own rebound in the corner and passed across the front of the net to Pietrangelo. Pietrangelo attempted a pass to Perron waiting at the side of the net but Elder would tip the puck past Jacob Markstrom into his own net. It would mark the first time all series the Blues held a two-goal lead.

The Blues completely dominated the second period. The shots on goal differential was 17-5 Blues just in the second period alone and kept the heavy pressure both on Markstrom offensively and defensively slowing down the speed attack the Canucks have had success with for 2+ games in this series.

Jake Allen started for the second straight game in this series and was spectacular in net. Blues heavy offensive time of possession and attention to details on defense lead to a lighter workload as he saved 22 of 23 shots on goal, including 11 in the first period.

Jacob Markstrom was also strong in net for the Canucks, stopping 34 of 37 shots. He did all he could to hold off the furious Blues attack but it was too much on this night. Markstrom was the Canucks best player in Game 4.

After going 6-11 on the power play in this series and being the top power play unit in this year’s playoffs, the Canucks were 0-7 in Game 4. Vancouver just couldn’t get it going with the same success the unit thrived on in this year’s playoffs, only generating 7 shots on goals in those 7 opportunities, two opportunities cut short by penalties of their own, and 0 shots on goal in three opportunities in the third period.

The “road” team has won every game in this series. Since all the playoff games in the Western Conference are being held at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, this really just means each team wearing white sweaters has won in this series.

Will the Canucks regain their speed and passing attack swagger that led them to a goal away from a 3-0 lead in the series? Or will the Blues continue trending in their Stanley Cup winning form of success to take full control of this series? We will find out in Game 5 on Wednesday night, 10:30 PM EST/7:30 PM PST.

Game notes

Ryan O’Reilly has 6 points in the last 3 games. Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes‘ 6 game playoff point-scoring streak ended in Game 4. Elias Petterson’s three-game goal-scoring streak ended in Game 4 as well.

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Blues forward Sammy Blais fought Canucks forward Antoine Roussel late in the first period and missed the second period due to injury. He came back in the third period. After receiving the hit into the boards from Fantenberg in the second period, Robert Thomas missed the rest of the second period. Thomas would return in the third period.