The Blues Played The Longest Game Of Keepaway Ever And Lost
12:53 PM EST on February 25, 2021
I really can't get over what happened late in the third period of last night's Kings-Blues game. With about seven-and-a-half minutes to play, and the Kings up 2-0, L.A.'s Tobias Bjornfot hooked STL's Jordan Kyrou as Kyrou was retreating from the offensive zone. This prompted Jordan Binnington to leave his net and the official to raise his arm for the delayed penalty, signalling that the game would stop and the power play would begin the next time the Kings touched the puck.
If you watch even a bit of hockey here or there, you can probably figure what comes next. Typically, the Blues would have put together an attack on the Kings' net with the extra man, trying their best to hold possession as long as possible to maintain the advantage and maybe even score before the penalized man officially traveled to the box. If they were lucky, they probably could have avoided the Kings' sticks for about 30 seconds or so until a whistle froze play.
But the Blues were something far beyond lucky last night. As they tried and tried to breach Calvin Petersen's goal without ceding possession to the Kings' defense, the clock just kept ticking further and further down. One minute passed, and their patience with the puck refused to waiver. Two minutes passed, and the rebounds kept bouncing their way. Three minutes passed, and you could see the Kings' bodies wearing down right before your eyes. But finally, after more than three-and-a-half continuous minutes without either a goal or a turnover, Petersen held on to the fifth shot on net of the sequence to finally press that pause button. The power play officially began, and, fun fact, the Blues couldn't score there either, though they did manage a late one with an empty net to make the final 2-1.
“Obviously, it’s pretty unique. I think the whole time, we expected the other team to mess up,” Petersen said afterwards. “They did a good job. I think we did a better job of staying in our structure. We kind of held on for dear life. It didn’t feel really too chaotic despite the long time for it.”
I'm skittish about reproducing and retransmitting such a long stretch of the game on this site without the express written consent of the NHL, but you can find a link to the whole sequence here. I recommend checking it out, if only because it might be a rare piece of hockey history. They don't keep records for the longest delayed penalty stretches ever, but anecdotally, on the internet fans are typically wowed by anything approaching two minutes. If there's something quite like this from the last century of NHL play, good luck finding it, and please let me know if you do.
I'm mainly overwhelmed by this one bit of weirdness, but I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention that Wednesday night's victory was the Kings' sixth in a row. That's the longest active streak in hockey, and it puts them firmly in the playoff hunt out West after being picked to finish at the division's bottom. Credit for their surprisingly early success goes to resurgent vets like Dustin Brown and Drew Doughty, as well as the development of the 26-year-old Petersen, who's suddenly become one of the league's best shot-stoppers in this small sample size of games.
But you also don't put together a hot streak without stupid shit going your way, and letting the other team hold the puck for the time it takes to make a grilled cheese and still emerging unscathed certainly qualifies. With the delayed penalty, plus the power play, plus the empty net, the Kings spent essentially the last eight minutes of the game down a man. It came very close to blowing up in their faces, but two points are two points, and, now that everyone can exhale, it's actually pretty damn cool that they pulled it off.