With Jaden Schwartz for a moment claiming responsibility for a quarter of the team’s goals, and stars like Vladimir Tarasenko and Brayden Schenn sitting on seven and four points for the postseason, respectively, the St. Louis Blues have needed contributions from all corners of their lineup to survive into the third round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
This was once again true with the Blues while desperate for a win in San Jose on Monday night to avoid falling down 2-0 to the Sharks in the Western Conference Final, with maybe their most unlikely skater offering the game’s decisive moment.
After Logan Couture erased goals from Schwartz and Vince Dunn, Robert Bortuzzo put St. Louis ahead once again late in the second period with a rare venture deep in the offensive zone, a silky transition to the backhand and an expert finish into the roof of the net.
— theScore (@theScore) May 14, 2019
A scorer of just two goals in 59 games throughout the regular season, Bortuzzo returned to his bread and butter to help preserve the lead he established for the Blues in the late stages of the contest.
Dropping to his knees to take away the shooting lane, Bortuzzo absorbed some punishment to thwart a glorious one-time chance from Kevin Labanc in the middle slot — maybe the best look the Sharks were able to generate in their late-game push.
Bortuzzo’s contributions turned out to be the difference in a game that could have easily swung in the Sharks’ favour. But despite being out-attempted for prolonged stretches, coughing up a two-goal lead in a span of just two minutes, and actually opening up a deficit across 10 minutes on the power play, the Blues held firm.
Now they’ll have a chance to take control of the series back in St. Louis.
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