EDMONTON — The St. Louis Blues were a desperate team and played like it Sunday, firing 49 shots at the Vancouver Canucks and finally earning a 3-2 overtime win.
Brayden Schenn scored on a breakaway with less than five minutes to go in the extra frame to give the defending Stanley Cup champions their first win in return-to-play competition.
The win narrows the Canucks’ lead to 2-1 in their best-of-seven series. Game 4 goes Monday night.
“It’s one win. Obviously it took a while, a lot longer than we expected to get one here in Edmonton,” said Schenn.
“We feel the qualifying round we weren’t great, but in the playoffs each game we’re getting better.”
Schenn was circling in the neutral zone when he got the puck, raced in and fired a shot high past Vancouver goalie Jacob Markstrom.
It was Schenn’s first goal of the post-season.
“Schwartzie (Jaden Schwartz) came off. He was a little bit tired, so I jumped on, kind of on the back check,” said Schenn.
“The puck squeaked out to me, a lucky bounce, kind of popped right in the middle there.
“Markstrom’s playing well. I just tried to give him a quick shot.”
Vancouver captain Bo Horvat said they expected a desperate team and a seesaw battle.
“Anything can happen in overtime. We had our looks. They had theirs,” said Horvat.
“It was just a fortunate play for them. They just kind of slung it and (Schenn) ended up on breakaway.
“We’ve got to have short term memory loss and be ready to play tomorrow. The good thing is we play tomorrow.”
David Perron, with his fourth goal of the post-season, and Justin Faulk also scored for St. Louis, while Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller replied for the Canucks.
Goaltender Jake Allen stopped 39 shots for the win. Markstrom stopped 46 for Vancouver.
It was Allen’s first appearance in the series, replacing Jordan Binnington, the hero of the 2019 Cup run.
Binnington has struggled in return to play, fighting rebounds while letting in nine goals in the first two games (.809 save percentage) against the Canucks.
Allen saw limited action in the regular season but compiled a 12-6-3 record and a .927 save percentage. The 30-year-old from Fredericton, N.B., stopped 37-of-38 shots against Dallas in his lone appearance in the round robin.
“We expected (Allen) to play great and he did,” said Blues forward Tyler Bozak.
“It’s a pretty good luxury to have two goaltenders with that calibre on your team.”
All the scoring in regulation play came in the second period, starting on the power play when Pettersson hit Miller with a tape-to-tape stretch pass with Miller in full flight at the Blues blue line. Miller streaked in and snapped a shot high glove side on Allen for a 1-0 lead.
The Blues tied it midway through the period when Faulk jumped into the slot, took a seam pass from Robert Thomas and ripped the puck past Markstrom.
Perron gave the Blues their first lead of the series, taking a dish pass from Ryan O’Reilly and delivering a sharp angle shot over Markstrom’s shoulder.
Vancouver replied just seconds later when St. Louis defencemen Colton Parayko and Marco Scandella got tangled up with the puck in the high slot. Pettersson jumped in and fired a quick shot short-side under the bar on Allen.
The Blues were without winger Vladimir Tarasenko. The Russian sniper played in the first two games but did not dress for Game 3. The NHL is not releasing injury information.
For Vancouver, defenceman Jordie Benn entered the lineup for Tyler Myers. Myers fell awkwardly into the boards on a hit from Schenn late in Game 2.
All Western Conference games are being played in an empty Rogers Place, with players isolated in a so-called bubble on their off time to prevent contracting COVID-19.
St. Louis was the Western Conference leader (42-29-10) when the NHL halted, and eventually ended, the regular season on March 12 due to COVID-19.
But the bubble has not been kind to the Blues.
They lost all three games in the round robin, dropping to the fourth seed and were winless against the Canucks until Sunday.
The Canucks were 36-27-6, good for 18th in the NHL, when play was suspended. They defeated the Minnesota Wild in four games in the qualifying round.