Blues defenseman Bortuzzo an unlikely hero

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three:21 AM ET

Greg WyshynskiESPN

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Robert Bortuzzo wasn’t the one star for the St. Louis Blues of their Four-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks in Recreation 2 of the Western Convention finals.

He is simply the one one they needed to speak about.

Oh, they talked about goalie Jordan Binnington (24 saves), who improved to 10-2-Zero in video games after a loss this season, with a .934 save proportion and a 1.80 goals-against common. They acknowledged the clutch opening purpose by Jaden Schwartz, who continued his postseason renaissance after a disappointing common season.

However they actually simply needed to speak about Bortuzzo’s purpose at 16:34 of the second interval, as a defenseman who has by no means been identified for his offensive flourish roofed a shot previous Martin Jones that ended up being the game-winning tally and knotted the sequence because it heads to St. Louis for Recreation three on Wednesday.

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“That was unbelievable. He will get it on his stick and he is so calm, after which he makes that shot. … It is one of many hardest backhands I’ve seen. We have been all very impressed,” heart Ryan O’Reilly stated.

“Picked the nook too,” heart Brayden Schenn stated. He then quipped, “I am certain Bortuzzo has a number of like that. Examine the spotlight reel.”

Schwartz joked that Bortuzzo scores these type of targets “on a regular basis” in observe.

As Binnington added, “That was actually clean. Good play by him. He is obtained that in his arsenal.”

Having Binnington and Schwartz make performs in a vital recreation of the Western Convention ultimate is not precisely stunning. Bortuzzo making them is sort of stunning. Not solely as a result of he had simply two assists in 30 earlier postseason video games with the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Blues, however as a result of he has been out and in of the lineup this postseason with the Blues, enjoying simply eight of their 15 playoff video games. He performed solely two of seven video games towards the Dallas Stars within the earlier spherical, earlier than showing within the first two video games towards the Sharks.

“It is by no means enjoyable popping out [of the lineup]. Nevertheless it’s the way you deal with it. It is utilizing the day without work to get higher,” Bortuzzo stated.

How the 30-year-old Bortuzzo handles it’s indicative of his character, in accordance with Schenn: “He is a glue man in our locker room. Whether or not he is within the lineup or out of the lineup, his angle does not change. He is a team-first man. You want these guys.”

The Blues wanted him in Recreation 2. The rating was tied at 2-2 late within the third interval, the Sharks having rallied from a 2-Zero deficit on two extra Logan Couture targets, giving him 13 within the playoffs. Bortuzzo was out with new defensive companion Joel Edmundson and the Blues’ greatest line within the first two video games of the playoffs: Patrick Maroon, Robert Thomas and Tyler Bozak.

The Blues do their greatest work deep contained in the offensive zone, and their defensemen have been inspired to affix the play a bit extra with the intention to facilitate that. Maroon obtained the play began on the forecheck, the puck discovering its approach to Bortuzzo. He handed to Bozak, who handed to Edmundson, who noticed Bortuzzo dash to the purpose after catching Sharks veteran heart Joe Thornton flat-footed on the blue line. Edmundson fed him, and Bortuzzo did the remainder.

“I discovered a approach to sneak in behind Thornton and put it house,” Bortuzzo stated.

Once more, one doesn’t count on Robert Bortuzzo to attain a vital purpose. He has 14 of them in 335 regular-season video games because the 2011-12 season. He did not have one within the Stanley Cup playoffs till Monday.

Does he bear in mind his final playoff purpose, normally?

“In all of hockey?” he requested.

It was really in 2007, whereas Bortuzzo was with the Kitchener Rangers. Do not forget that purpose?

“I do not,” he stated with fun. “I do not know when you have individuals that may dig that stuff up, nevertheless it’s been some time.”

Later within the recreation, Bortuzzo made a play that was way more in line with his popularity within the NHL, dropping to the ice to dam a rocket off the stick of the Sharks’ Kevin Labanc in entrance of Binnington.

“[Brent] Burns had it down low, discovered a excessive man and it was an enormous block by Bortuzzo. Key second within the recreation. I feel we fed off that,” the Blues rookie goalie stated.

Bortuzzo additionally performed 1:47 on the penalty kill for the Blues, on an evening when the Sharks have been Zero-for-2 on the facility play.

“It felt good to contribute in any approach,” he stated.

However fact be informed, it particularly feels good to contribute offensively, if his teammates’ response is any indication.

“He often has nice breakout passes, however I’ve by no means seen him that far up the ice,” Oskar Sundqvist joked. “Superior purpose, superior celly.”

That celebration, the place Bortuzzo simply appeared to bellow like a beast after the purpose, was one thing he promised Schwartz earlier than the postseason.

“[Goal scoring] is not actually my recreation. It goes behind your thoughts,” Bortuzzo stated. “However I informed Jaden that if I do rating a playoff purpose, you are going to just like the celebration.”

Did he just like the celebration?

Schwartz smiled.

“I liked his celebration,” he stated.

 

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