Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo plays unlikely hero


Robert Bortuzzo wasn't the only star for the St. Louis Bluesin their 4-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.

He's just the only one they wanted to talk about.

Oh, they mentioned goalie Jordan Binnington (24 saves), who improved to 10-2-0 in games after a loss this season, with a .934 save percentage and a 1.80 goals-against average. They acknowledged the clutch opening goal by Jaden Schwartz, who continued his postseason renaissance after a disappointing regular season.

But they really just wanted to talk about Bortuzzo's goal at 16:34 of the second period, as a defenseman who has never been known for his offensive flourish roofed a shot past Martin Jones that ended up being the game-winning tally and knotted the series as it heads to St. Louis for Game 3 on Wednesday.

"That was unbelievable. He gets it on his stick and he's so calm, and then he makes that shot. … It's one of the hardest backhands I've seen. We were all very impressed," center Ryan O'Reilly said.

"Picked the corner too," center Brayden Schenn said. He then quipped, "I'm sure Bortuzzo has a few like that. Check the highlight reel."

Schwartz joked that Bortuzzo scores those kind of goals "all the time" in practice.

As Binnington added, "That was really smooth. Nice play by him. He's got that in his arsenal."

Having Binnington and Schwartz make plays in a critical game of the Western Conference final isn't exactly surprising. Bortuzzo making them is quite surprising. Not only because he had just two assists in 30 previous postseason games with the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Blues, but because he has been in and out of the lineup this postseason with the Blues, playing just eight of their 15 playoff games. He played only two of seven games against the Dallas Stars in the previous round, before appearing in the first two games against the Sharks.

#hockey, #professional

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