ST. LOUIS — With the game – and perhaps the season – in the balance, assistant coach Mike Van Ryn of the St. Louis Blues made a decision.

With the Blues battling with the Sharks in San Jose in Game 2 on Monday night, Van Ryn decided to tweak his defensive pairings. He put Alex Pietrangelo with veteran Jay Bouwmeester, the offensive-minded Vince Dunn with the powerful slap shot of Colton Parayko, and Joel Edmundson with fellow defensive stalwart Robert Bortuzzo.

So of course, it was Bortuzzo who scored the winning goal in the 4-2 victory late in the second period off a nice give-and-go with Edmundson.

“I think Ryno did a good job there of just reading off of how we were feeling,” Edmundson said. “All six of us, we’re comfortable playing with each other. When he put me and (Bortuzzo) together, we kind of got excited. We like playing together. It was nice to get out there with Bobbo again, especially getting that goal and helping our team out.”

Bortuzzo became the fifth Blues defenseman to score a goal in this postseason. More important, the Blues tied the Western Conference final at 1-1 with Game 3 coming up Wednesday night in St. Louis.

Dunn also scored and Edmundson had a pair of assists as Blues defenseman totaled five points in Game 2 and had a hand in all four goals. The Blues are tied with San Jose with 38 points from defensemen in the playoffs, the most in the NHL.

Blues Coach Craig Berube said the defensive switches resulted from switching up the lineups on the power play.

“Sometimes that’s needed just to mix things up,” Berube said. “It could be matchup. It could be a number of different things. Our team understands that and they know that things change during the game, but they don’t let it affect them. They stay with their game. They stay with the game plan. And they stay focused.”

Pietrangelo got an assist on Oskar Sundqvist’s goal in the third period to tie the Blues record for points by a defenseman in one postseason with 12 (two goals, 10 assists). Pietrangelo’s offense is expected – the Blues captain had 41 points in 71 regular-season games – but it is the scoring from the entire defense that has given the team a boost.

Edmundson has a goal and five assists in 13 playoffs games after just 11 points in 64 games this season. Bouwmeester has five points in 15 playoff games after 17 points in 78 regular-season games. And with a goal and an assist Monday night, Bortuzzo joined in after just 10 points in 59 games during the season.

“We want our ‘D’ to be active and they produced for us all year and produced in the playoffs, too,” Berube said.
After giving up numerous odd-man rushes in the opening loss to the Sharks, the Blues defense seems to have found its game, especially after the pairing switch midway through the second period.

“I just think we had more poise with the puck coming out of our end,” Bortuzzo said. “That gave us an opportunity to get through the neutralize zone with possession, put pucks where we wanted to and fore-check.”

The aggressiveness of the Blues defensemen in the offensive zone definitely got the Sharks’ attention.

“If they’re rolling around, you’ve got to lock up and get the job done and be on the inside,” Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said. “We let a few guys kind of get inside us tonight probably. That was the focus probably for them coming in. There are certain battles that we’ve got to win, and we’ll try to get back to that part.”

MAPLE LEAFS: Team president Brendan Shanahan has signed a six-year contract extension through 2024-25.

Since the Toronto native took on the role with the team in April 2014 – the beginning of the so-called “Shana-Plan” – the Leafs bottomed out in the standings before a resurgence that has seen the franchise make the playoffs in each of the past three seasons.

Under Shanahan’s watch, Toronto hired Kyle Dubas as an assistant general manager in 2014 before adding head coach Mike Babcock and GM Lou Lamoriello in 2015.

Toronto drafted Mitch Marner in 2015, won the draft lottery in 2016 for the right to select Auston Matthews, and convinced John Tavares to sign with the Leafs in free agency last summer.

Dubas replaced Lamoriello, the man who originally drafted Shanahan as a player with the New Jersey Devils in 1987, as GM last spring.