The Blues have been searching for a No. 1 goaltender for years.
Now they may have two.
Brian Elliott was sensational once again for the Blues in a 2-1 overtime victory over the Blackhawks on Thursday, and a majority of his 24 saves were on quality chances.
Elliott stopped multiple 2-on-1 opportunities that easily could have changed the complexion of the game.
Instead, the momentum tilted toward the Blues after every save, none bigger than the penalty shot he stopped on Andrew Ladd in the third period, even if Elliott disagreed with the call.
“I just kind of tried to get my shoulder into it and take away that top corner. He got a good shot off on that first opportunity,” Elliott said after the game. “I really didn’t think I was going to take a penalty shot there, but we got a good response after that. The guys kind of picked it up a little bit and really pressured.”
When the pressure picked up, Vladimir Tarasenko netted the equalizer with 1:16 left in the third period to force overtime, giving them a chance to stay in the hunt for first place in the Central Division and Western Conference.
They can thank Elliott for that.
“He played good. Boy, he played really good,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “Both goalies played real good. Both goalies were really competitive. There was a lot of garbage around both nets and they had to make some big saves. (Elliott’s) save on the penalty shot was big for us. Play and move on.”
He made one more key save in overtime that allowed his team to pick up the extra point when Elliott stopped Hart Trophy-favorite Patrick Kane on a breakaway.
It's the kind of goaltending the Blues have been relying on all year long and a big reason why they’re tied with the Dallas Stars for the division-lead with 107 points.
“They’ve been great all year,” Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “Listen, we can sit here all day and talk about how great they are. They deserve every little bit of success that we have for a reason. We’re extremely lucky to have two guys that can play the way they do. We’re going to need them this postseason.”
The Blues' postseason path could involve a first round meeting with these same Blackhawks.
“We’ve played these guys in the playoffs before,” Pietrangelo said. “We’ve played here a lot of times. There’s been a lot of games here. I think every time we play here it feels like a playoff game. The atmosphere is always great. Certainly a little bit of a prep here but we don’t have to worry about now, we clinched that extra point.”
Whether or not they do clinch home-ice advantage throughout the Western Conference, the Blues will enter the postseason as one of the hottest teams, in large part because of their goaltending.
When Jake Allen, who suffered a lower-body injury and will be re-evaluated before the playoffs, gets healthy, the Blues will have a decision to make in goal.
But either way, they can’t go wrong.