Thursday, January 20, 2011

Blues fall short after comeback

Helm's goal gives Red Wings 4-3 victory;
St. Louis earns point by forcing overtime

ST. LOUIS -- It's easy for the Blues to look at the glass half empty when they lose.

Under the circumstances, looking at it half full might paint a clearer picture considering where the Blues once stood against the mighty Detroit Red Wings.

Down three goals against a team that just doesn't lose leads by that margin, the Blues were able to fight all the way back and get things on even ground. But Darren Helm ruined the Blues' comeback by scoring 1 minute, 51 seconds into overtime to give the Red Wings a 4-3 victory Thursday night at Scottrade Center.

The Blues (22-17-7) saw Detroit (29-12-6) race out to a 3-0 lead, thanks in large part to the Blues turning pucks over and allowing the skilled Wings skaters to take the open ice and allow time to make plays.

Patrick Eaves, Todd Bertuzzi and Jakub Kindl gave the Wings a seemingly insurmountable lead until the Blues battled back, getting a T.J. Oshie second period goal and then completely dominating the majority of the third and getting goals from Patrik Berglund and David Backes.

But Helm was able to get the game-winner off a 2-on-1 after the Blues' Erik Johnson had a shot blocked in the offensive zone, and Jiri Hudler beating Berglund to a puck along the boards that created the odd-man rush.

Helm took a pass from Hudler, past a sliding Eric Brewer and Helm beat Jaroslav Halak on the short side.

"The odd-man rush that we initially had that got evened up by a line change was a little bit of a telling factor there," Blues coach Davis Payne said, questioning a man on the ice coming off Detroit's bench at the time. "It's a lot further than five feet for that guy to get on the ice there.

"Our odd-man rush goes away and we lose possession. We need a little different read from Bergy and a little bit quicker read from EJ to deny that 2-on-1 coming back our way."

Johnson's initial shot in the zone was blocked by Niklas Kronwall, then Hudler, who had three assists on the night, beat Berglund to the puck along the boards, poked it by and was off to the races with Helm.

"It was just one of those plays," said Berglund, who had a goal and an assist in the game. "I came from the bench and it was a 50-50 puck. I went for it. He (poked) it by me and they came on a 2-on-1 and luckily, the puck went in for them.

"I saw (Hudler) coming. I thought I was close to the puck as well. I wanted to try and keep it in. Obviously, it was a bad read. They came in 2-on-1 and won the game for them."

But instead of looking at the end result, the Blues will instead take the high road and stake their claim that it was a critical point gained instead of one lost.

"It was an important point for us, there's no question about it," Payne said. "Detroit in the first period really carried a lot of the play. They were quicker to the puck, stronger on the puck, secondary guy support was better than ours. They've been talking a lot about their starts. They had a good one, got us behind.

"We kept building on some of our decisions. We kept building on some of our offensive zone time and found a way to get the score tied. It came down to an odd-man rush in overtime. I'd like to see that one get extended a little bit further and have a little more time on the clock to see, but it wasn't to be."

Said Alex Pietrangelo, "I just think we started moving our feet. We started doing what we wanted to do the whole game, which is put pucks in and be hard on the puck. We had a couple shifts there where we had two, three minutes in their zone. Once we started moving our feet and guys started putting the pucks back in was a huge difference."

Berglund set up Oshie in the slot to get the Blues on the board 11:44 into the second period that jumpstarted the home squad.

"I got the monkey off my back," Oshie said. "I would have taken the win instead of the goal, but it's good to get that first one.

"We had a tough start. I think as a team, myself included, as the game went on, my line ... Berglund, Sobotka and I really picked up our game. I think we started building some chemistry."

Berglund cut Detroit's lead to 3-2 by finishing off Vladimir Sobotka's pass 6:35 into the third, then Backes finished off a Brad Boyes feed with 5:46 remaining.

"Our skating game was a little bit better (in the third period)," Payne said. "I think most importantly, our secondary puck possession's were much firmer. You look at the first half of that hockey game, we would get some decent pressure on the first fore-check and the secondary guy would just look to chip a puck to an area as opposed to driving into the confrontation and possessing the puck. I thought the second half of that hockey game, we did a much better job with our possessions. Our puck protection, our determination in those areas, we knew we had to. We got a lot stronger at the puck in those areas."

Halak, who stopped 25 shots, preserved the point in the waning seconds by making an incredible stop on the goal line.

"He made some outstanding saves," Payne said of Halak. "We were pushing, but you knew, based on the position that you put yourself in, they were going to get some opportunities coming our way. Jaro was really solid, especially after the score was tied. ... Unfortunately, that OT one squeaked through his arm because he had an outstanding game."

The Blues will take the point all things considered.

"I think we have to bring a couple of these things with us," Berglund said. "We were down 3-0, we were coming back and I think that's very strong, but I don't think we played very good in the second period. Way too many turnovers. They got the momentum going. We've got to play a full 60 and get her going here."

"You've got to at least get a point every night here," Pietrangelo said. "I thought we did a really good job coming back there. It's a tough one to lose, but there's a lot of positive things to take from tonight."

* NOTES -- The Blues reassigned Chris Porter to Peoria after the forward cleared waivers. Porter has played in 25 games, collecting two assists.

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