Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Coyotes rally, down Blues 4-3

Fourth straight loss includes third straight
by one goal; Pyatt nets game-winner late

By LOUIE KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- Down by a goal in the third period, the Blues came out flying and hitting on all cylinders. It was the kind of start they needed to regain control of a game that was there to take.

They got two quick goals from Matt D'Agostini and Brad Winchester to regain a lead against the Phoenix Coyotes. The building was abuzz, the visitors were back on their heels.

But somewhere between the go-ahead goal and the final horn, the Blues lost that edge and the Coyotes got a go-ahead goal from Taylor Pyatt with 3 minutes 12 seconds remaining to give them a 4-3 victory over the Blues Monday night at Scottrade Center.

The loss was the fourth in a row for the Blues (0-3-1) and third straight at home. The Blues fell to 20-15-6 on the season and they remain in 12th place in the Western Conference after another gut-wrenching loss where points were there for the taking and the Blues somehow -- for better or worse in football terms -- fumbled away.

Kyle Turris tied the game 3-3 with a goal midway through the third period, and Pyatt scored on a wraparound goal that the Blues somehow lost containment on and Jaroslav Halak, who did stop 29 shots in the game, allowed the puck to squeeze through the near side to give the Coyotes the win.

"A rush goal and a coverage goal, and the next thing you know, we didn't feel like we did much in the third period," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "But there's a lot of good things in that game; not just the third (period) for our group.

"I thought there were stretches in that hockey game where we did a lot of good things. The beginning of the third, very focused, especially getting that one out of coverage. Dags real good rush intention. Backs (David Backes) with a real good middle lane drive to get that second chance and good finish. A real good response the next couple shifts."

Payne added, "There were some chances going either way. We felt like we had a chance to get that fourth one. I think Bergy (Patrik Berglund) was on the doorstep there with an open net and just kind of pushed it wide."

D'Agostini and Winchester scored 20 seconds apart to give the Blues a 3-2 lead off Jason LaBarbara and Phoenix called a time out to settle the play down.

Turris scored off a broken play after the puck entered the zone, firing a shot off the inside of the right post past Halak and then Pyatt took a puck behind the Blues' goal, and curled around to his left to stuff the winner home.

Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo was at the right post and forced Pyatt to one side of the goal while partner Barret Jackman was wide off the left post instead of closing off the area to the right of the goal, thus leaving a large crease for Pyatt to make an uncontested wraparound.

"We had body position," Payne said. "I think at times, it can be a read, but possession back there (behind the net) isn't in dangerous until it comes out. We had body position on outlets in front of the net. As soon as an opportunity came strong side, we probably had a chance to go at Pyatt in the initial exposure on the one post and he was able to get to the far side with the time that he had. It was a read by him that worked out."

Backes gave the Blues a 1-0 lead, scoring with 1:07 left in the first period, but there was a chance to make it a bigger lead when the Blues missed out on a 44-second two-man advantage.

"We had great looks on it," Payne said. "... We hadn't had a 5-on-3 in a while. We had some things in play there that we felt would give us some chances. ... I'm not sure how many shots we generated, but it's got to go in."

Phoenix got the better of the play in the second and got goals from Lauri Korpikoski on a deflection and former Blue Lee Stempniak scored his first in 16 games when he stripped Erik Johnson of a puck at the Phoenix blue line and beat Halak on a breakaway.

But the Blues, who had 19 shots through two periods, fired off 17 in the final period, including the big flurry at the outset when D'Agostini tied it 3:01 in and Winchester gave them a lead 20 seconds later.

"We came out hard to start the third, got to our game," Winchester said. "We were able to create some momentum down below the goal line, taking pucks to the net, finding ways to get pucks to the net ... just let the game slip away from us.

"To create that sustainability, to keep the pressure on, to keep them on their heels is something that we need to do a better job of."

D'Agostini agreed.

"We worked hard," he said. "That's just the way it goes sometimes. But it's been our story lately. When we haven't been so great, it's cost us. We're doing some good things. Just keep going at it.

"We came out with an agenda (in the third period). We talked about it in here. We couldn't let this one slip away. ... We just got a couple bounces, we went hard to the net like we always do and we got rewarded for it. We keep doing that, we're going to get more and more goals."

The Blues pulled Halak late and Berglund had a chance at the horn in the slot but was denied by LaBarbara.

"We probably played our best game in the last stretch of games," Brewer said. "We had lots of chances but just couldn't find that one that would keep them down.

"There's really not much consolation being close. There's some things that we're really doing well out there. There's a fine line between winning and losing and right now, we're on the other side of it. But I think there's a lot of things we can look at and stick with."

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