ST. LOUIS – Erik Johnson showed why the St. Louis Blues took him with the first pick in the 2006 NHL entry draft.
The defenceman finished off the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night with an end-to-end rush that ended with Johnson firing a wrist shot past goalie Ilya Bryzgalov from the high slot 17 seconds into overtime for a 3-2 victory.
“It felt great. Any time you score a goal it feels good,” Johnson said. “But to win a game against a good team like Phoenix, it feels even better.”
The win was the first for St. Louis in five overtimes (1-4) this season and the first loss for Phoenix (4-1) in five extra sessions.
“The guys, they need to enjoy this a little bit,” Blues coach Andy Murray said. “We’ve had a tough time.”
After Phoenix put the puck in St. Louis’ end, Johnson gained control, skated up left wing and crossed the Coyotes’ blue-line with the puck. He then moved into the middle and beat Bryzgalov with a wrist shot.
“I didn’t see it when he released the puck,” Bryzgalov said. “I only found the puck when it was close to my pad and it was too late.”
Keith Tkachuk and T J. Oshie also scored for St. Louis. Blues goalie Chris Mason made 34 saves, including 13 in the third period.
“You start to do the right things and people start playing with confidence,” Mason said. “Finally, we’re starting to come out on the right end.”
Radim Vrbata and Vernon Fidder scored for Phoenix, and Bryzgalov turned away 27 shots.
I give our guys a lot of credit,” Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. “They competed hard. Probably deserved a better fate tonight.”
After Taylor Pyatt and Fiddler executed a perfect give-and-go to give Phoenix the lead 1:58 into the second period, Oshie tied it at 2:35 of the third when he got control of the puck in front, and slipped a backhander past Bryzgalov.
Tkachuk was involved in the game’s first two goals. He turned the puck over in his own end, which led to Sami Lepisto feeding Shaun Heska in the slot. Vrbata deflected Heska’s shot past Mason at the 3:22 mark of the first period to make it 1-0.
Just 2:59 later, Tkachuk made up for that when he broke in on right wing, skated around Lepisto and shoved the puck under Bryzgalov to tie the game.
Notes: Phoenix defenceman Ed Jovanovski missed his sixth straight game because of a lower-body injury. … Tkachuk’s goal was his first in 14 games. “There was some fight in the old dog tonight,” Murray said. … The Blues are 4-7-1 at home and 2-2 on their six-game homestand. … Vrbata has three goals in his last four games.