ST. LOUIS (AP) Mired in a scoring slump, St. Louis forward Vladimir Tarasenko was looking for that lucky bounce.
He found it when the Blues needed it most.
Tarasenko scored with 36 seconds left in overtime, and the short-handed St. Louis Blues beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 on Sunday night.
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”I think when so many chances and the puck doesn’t go in, you just have to play simple and get that lucky bounce,” Tarasenko said. ”But I think overall our line is playing better every game. We’re getting more chances all the time.”
Brayden Schenn and Paul Stastny also scored, and Joel Edmundson recorded two assists as the Blues topped the Sabres for the 10th time in their last 11 meetings. Jake Allen made 22 saves, improving to 5-1 in six career starts against Buffalo.
Evan Rodrigues, in just his third game this season after coming back from a hand injury, scored both goals for the Sabres, who have lost six of seven. Robin Lehner made 42 saves.
Tarasenko used his speed to get around the Sabres defense and notch his 14th goal of the season. Tarasenko tried to go backhand-forehand, but the puck deflected off Lehner’s outstretched stick and into the net before he could finish the move.
”I didn’t want him to get a shot off, so I did a poke check and it was a second too early and it went in, but he’s a hell of a player with a hell of a shot, so I just wanted to take that away,” Lehner said. ”I felt like I had him most of the game and it’s tough.”
It was Tarasenko’s second goal in his last nine games.
”He will be the first to admit he’s missed more nets and hit more posts, but for me the mindset of him taking the puck to the net and scoring in tight, that’s big,” Blues coach Mike Yeo said. ”If he continues to do that, he won’t be stopped.”
The Blues won their fourth straight despite being without second-leading scorer Jaden Schwartz and top defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, taking 58 combined points out of the St. Louis lineup.
Both suffered lower-body injuries in the Blues’ 6-1 win at Detroit on Saturday afternoon. Schwartz was placed on injured reserve, but Pietrangelo is day-to-day.
”We rolled our forwards, rolled our D-men and we kind of played that next-man-up mentality, and we have enough depth and we have enough chemistry that we’re confident with anyone that’s out there,” Stastny said. ”So when we’re missing two big guys like that we don’t use it as an excuse, we just keep playing.”
Schenn scored his 16th goal of the season just 40 seconds into the game to give the Blues a 1-0 lead. It was ninth goal in 18 career games against the Sabres.
Stastny scored his first goal in seven games to make it 2-0 with 3:43 left in the second period. Stastny put home a rebound off a shot by Tarasenko that went wide but caromed off the end boards right to his stick.
Rodrigues scored on a power play early in the third. Rodrigues was left unmarked at the side of the net when an Evander Kane pass deflected off of Sam Reinhart directly to his tape.
Rodrigues tied the game moments after the Sabres pulled Lehner for an extra attacker, putting home a rebound off a slap shot by Marco Scandella with 1:27 left.
”We respected them too much,” Sabres coach Phil Housley said. ”That’s a good hockey team. That’s a very good hockey team, but until we got settled in and got back into the game, I thought our third period was really strong. We’ve just got to start the game that way.”
NOTES: The Blues recalled C Ivan Barbashev from Chicago (AHL) to take Schwartz’s spot. … Sabres C Ryan O’Reilly played in his 600th career game. … The Blues scratched Pietraneglo, R Chris Thorburn and L Sammy Blais. … The Sabres scratched C Jordan Nolan, D Nathan Beaulieu and D Victor Antipin.