ST. LOUIS (TICKER) —The St. Louis Blues extended their run of playoff appearances. Now they want to make a run at first place.
The Blues stretched the longest active streak of consecutive postseason berths in professional sports before Pavol Demitra scored a mesmerizing overtime goal for a 3-2 victory over the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.
Demitra scored twice for the Blues, who needed only a point to earn their 24th straight playoff appearance. They need five more to catch Detroit - their Saturday opponent - for first place in the Central Division.
“It’s a good feeling, but certainly our objective is to try and catch Detroit,” St. Louis coach Joel Quenneville said. “There’s still some hope in that area, but we have to win Saturday, that’s what it comes down to.”
Demitra single-handedly gave St. Louis an extra point, picking up a rebound of defenseman Al MacInnis’ shot to the left of Martin Gerber and stickhandling around the goaltender before scoring from behind the goal line at 2:22 of overtime.
“I tried to make the save on MacInnis and then I thought Demitra was going to shoot right away, but then he went around,” said Gerber, who stopped 31 shots. “He made a nice play.”
Despite the loss, the Ducks rallied from a two-goal deficit and set a franchise record with their 86th point.
“It says a lot,” first-year coach Mike Babcock said. “From the beginning of the season, you tell your guys to believe in one another, to persevere, keep battling, working and stick to a simple plan.”
Anaheim took over sole possession of sixth place in the Western Conference, moving a point ahead of Minnesota.
Goalie Chris Osgood won for the third time in as many starts for the Blues, who stretched their unbeaten streak to five games (4-0-1) and won for the eighth time in their last 10 tries (8-1-1).
Osgood stopped Paul Kariya on a breakaway with 15:54 left in regulation for one of his 24 saves, helping St. Louis solidify its hold on fourth place in the West.
“My job here is to make big saves at the right time,” said Osgood, who should start Saturday against his former club. “We have some guys here that can score. If I can keep the score tied, be solid, we’re going to score goals and win.”
The Blues opened the scoring with two goals in the first period. Doug Weight beat Gerber with a wrist shot from the slot while on the power play at 3:53 and Demitra increased the lead in fluky fashion.
“It was a little bit of a lucky play,” Demitra said. “I was standing there and saw the puck flipping over the net. It came to me and I just put it in.”
Anaheim answered with a pair of goals in the second. Oates scored a power-play tally off a scramble in front of the net 75 seconds into the period and Steve Thomas beat Osgood with a slap shot from the right faceoff dot at 11:50.
“Took us a while to get regrouped,” Babcock said. “Then I thought we really got planted and there was some good playing.”
Osgood kept the game tied just over four minutes into the third period when he stopped Kariya on a breakaway.
The Blues had all five shots in overtime.