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LAS VEGAS – There are overtime/shootout points that look like a win. And the ones that stick in your stable.

The Blues’ 5-4 shootout loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday was arguably the highlight. Yes, they went into overtime and finished their longest road trip of the season 3-1-1.

But they came close to beating the Western Conference leaders on several occasions.

“It stings because we know how valuable points are right now,” defenseman Robert Bortuzzo said. “Overall, a pretty successful road trip shows. Time to recharge here and get back to it.”

The Blues now take a three-day break from the Christmas holidays and will return to action against Toronto at the Enterprise Center on Tuesday.

“We really wanted that one,” forward Noel Acciari said. “Hard jump off the end wall at the end there. But a big point for us and seven out of 10 points on this trip is big.”

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True, but eight would be better than seven for the Blues, who are now 16-16-2.

Acciari scored on a net-front deflection off the shaft of his stick to give the Blues a 4-3 lead with 9:15 left. Brandon Saad created the game with a shot from the left wing. It was his 9th goal of the season for Acciari. He has scored more than nine goals just twice in his previous seven NHL seasons.

As the clock wound down, the Blues led Vegas 4-3. It’s not like they were on their heels, or under constant pressure from a Golden Knights team trying to chase. Then, with just 2:38 left in the game, Saad was called for a foul on William Karlsson.

It was a strange call. For one, it was a late call. No member of the service staff appeared to raise a hand to signal a breach. For another, there didn’t seem to be much to call.

“Tough call at the end,” coach Craig Berube said. “A call is a call, but they could have had one (Vegas penalty) right before that on Acciari. They don’t name it. So it’s tough.

“If you let the other one go, you should probably let that one go.”

And that was the tenor of the blues’ protest. They didn’t think it was a miscarriage of justice.

It was more like. “Really?” You’re going to call it at this point in the game, in this type of game.”

“It’s disappointing,” Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly said. “That was a tough call there. I don’t think it’s a penalty. However, it happens. On the penalty kill we are in the strike zone, it hits the back (wall) and right into their tape.

“We’re right there. We had that.’

With 1:36 to play in regulation, not long after Vegas benched goaltender Logan Thompson in favor of a sixth forward, former Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo sent the puck into the back of the net. It bounced off the end wall and right onto the stick of Chandler Stevenson, who buried it to tie the game at 4-4.

“The time and the goal for what was going on there, I thought there could have been a couple of penalties,” Bortuzzo said. “I thought the third period was very controlled. Unfortunately, it happened. That’s the sport. It’s hard work (officials).”

The Blues had taken 21 of 23 penalties in the seven games before Stevenson’s goal.

After a scoreless overtime, Mark Stone sent the home crowd into the T-Mobile Arena cheering with a goal in the fourth round of the shootout.

The Blues were on the brink of victory again in the shootout after Vladimir Tarasenko, shooting second, beat Thompson and the Golden Knights went 0-for-2 on opening attempts. (Robert Thomas had blocked the post for the Blues’ first try).

So the Blues could have wrapped it up in Round 3, but the box rolled off the stick of Braden Schenn.

Stevenson then landed his shot for Vegas in Round 3, and after O’Reilly was stopped by Thompson in Round 4, Stone sent his shot past Jordan Binnington on the sideline for the win. Binnington played well Friday. he had no chance on two of Vegas’ four field goals and stopped Pietrangelo on a layup in OT.

“The boys fought hard,” Berube said. “I scored enough goals to win.”

Playing without leading man Jordan Kirou (upper-body injury) for the second straight game, the Blues were able to generate some offense, especially in the second period when they scored three goals.

In that span, Pavel Buchnevich scored for the sixth time in his last eight games; Tarasenko scored on the power play from Buchnevich for his 10thth the goal of the season; and Justin Faulk scored his first goal since Nov. 21 on a deflection off the skate of Vegas defenseman Braden Pachal.

“Yeah, there were some nice goals,” O’Reilly said. “I thought the boys made some nice performances. Obviously, that’s something we have to continue to do. . . .It’s a little better to defend.”

And here’s the rub. Even with the higher scoring in today’s NHL, you have to win when you score four times. But the “blues” were not strong enough in defense. They fell back into the trap of too many turnovers and too many lane exits of their own making.

“There were some untimely turnovers that weren’t good and just a little bit of awareness in our own zone,” Berube said.

“They’re coming in with a lot of speed, some ill-timed snaps have led to rush plays,” Bortuzzo said. “They play at a high tempo, they hang low, they try to sneak right behind you.

“There’s a reason they’re at the top of their division. Good team, well coached, good structure. I thought we played them and we didn’t get the two points.”

Sports columnists Ben Frederickson and Geoff Gordon check out the progress of the young forward, who the Blues have made a big bet on this off-season.

Ben Frederickson,

Jeff Gordon,

Chris Drury



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