Team has lost three of four, have been
outscored 9-0 in first period of those losses
By LOUIE KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- The Blues were down this road before and got out of it. They seemed to have fallen into some bad habits once again.
When coach Ken Hitchcock said his team needed to eliminate "some debris in our game" a season ago, it took the Blues some time to recover. But they did so in time and made the playoffs.
The Blues are not quite there yet, but there are remnants of "debris" creeping into their game, and it's come at a time when the Western Conference is sizzling right now.
(St. Louis Blues/Mark Buckner)
The Blues' Maxim Lapierre (40) battles for the puck with the Ducks' Kyle
Palmieri Saturday night at Scottrade Center.
What was supposed to be another Western Conference clash of heavyweights turned into another dud for the Blues.
The Ducks (20-7-5) got goals by Andrew Cogliano, Corey Perry and Getzlaf in the opening 7 minutes, 29 seconds. Perry and Getzlaf scored in a 1:53 span to chase Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak.
Nick Bonino and Cogliano had a goal and an assist and rookie Frederik Andersen stopped 26 shots to improve to 8-1-0. The Ducks, who beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in a shootout Friday night, are 5-1-2 in their past eight games.
Jaden Schwartz and Patrik Berglund scored third-period for the Blues, who fell to 12-2-2 on home ice. The Blues (19-6-3) have dropped three of four games and are 0-for-California this season; four of their six regulation losses have come against the Ducks, the Los Angeles Kings and the San Jose Sharks, who've beaten them twice.
In the past four games, the Blues have been outscored 9-1 in the first period, and 9-0 in the three losses they've sustained.
"I think it's the same for every game," Hitchcock said. "When you don't have a mindset of checking, then that affects your competitive level, races for pucks, puck battles, 50-50 pucks. When your mindset is something other than checking to start with, that affects everything. It's been the same. We went through this last year, and it was, what, a month we went through this where we had to change our attitude towards what was important.
"We'll score lots of we check better. We'll get way more offensive zone time. We're just chasing the game. We're chasing the game because we're not starting with the puck, we're not keeping the puck, we're not determined when we're being checked, and we're not determined when we're checking, so you play slow. We look slow and then we speed up as the game goes on. We got more competitive as the game went on, but we're allowing the other team to dictate the checking tempo and it affects every part of our game."
Added Berglund: "We're obviously not ready to play, especially against Anaheim, which is a really good team. We let them have the start and it's kind of hard to get back against a good team like that. Preparation, whatever ... we need to obviously do something about it and do something from the start."
The Ducks won for the first time in regulation in St. Louis the past nine games. Their last regulation win here was a 4-3 victory on Dec. 28, 2008.
Cogliano opened the scoring 1:10 into the game when his centering feed to Saku Koivu caromed off the left skate of Blues defenseman Barret Jackman and between Halak's skates.
Perry's power-play goal came after a delay of game penalty to Alex Pietrangelo when Perry deflected Getzlaf's high shot from the slot past Halak at 5:36 for a 2-0 lead.
After a David Backes turnover, Getzlaf chased Halak when his wrister from the right circle beat the Blues' goaltender at 7:29. Halak was replaced by Brian Elliott after allowing three goals on eight shots.
"There's nothing I could have done (on the first two goals)," Halak said. "Just maybe the third one, I need to stop that one.
"I need to look at myself and everybody else needs to probably find the answers. We need to play for 60 minutes, not only for 20."
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said his team noticed a difference in the Blues' goalie during warm-ups.
"We watched warm-up and I thought Halak looked out of sorts," Boudreau said. "When a (first) goal goes in like that its tough to recover. Two good shots after that and we got the lead, silenced the crowd for a long period of time and we were able to just hang on at the end."
Getzlaf has 10 goals and 10 assists in his past 13 games. In the Ducks' past 11 games, he has six goals and eight assists. Getzlaf missed three games with an upper-body injury that broke up his points streak.
The Blues had a pair of four-minute power plays, one in each of the first two periods, but came up empty-handed. Vladimir Sobotka was high-sticked by Pat Maroon, then again by Sami Vatanen.
The Blues had five shots during the first four-minute advantage but had no shots on the second high-sticking call.
Bonino scored with 2:44 left in the second period to give the Ducks a 4-0 lead, getting a feed at the left side of the net from St. Louis native Maroon. Bonino now has 10 points in nine games.
Schwartz got the Blues on the board 1:18 into the third period when he jammed in T.J. Oshie's wraparound pass to the left post to cut the Ducks' lead to 4-1. Schwartz now has nine points in eight of the past nine games (four goals, five assists). The assist was Oshie's seventh point in seven games (six assists).
(St. Louis Blues/Mark Buckner)
Alexander Steen (pictured) and the Blues had another slow start and it
cost them in a 5-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks Saturday night.
Berglund's goal extended the Blues' streak of scoring two or more goals on home ice to 22 games dating back to last season.
Mark Fistric added an empty-net goal with 1:48 remaining to seal the victory and sent the Blues
"The execution of the game plan the first five, 10 minutes is unacceptable," Jackman said. "The first one they get a bounce, and we don't respond after that. A power play goal against and we're down 2-0 pretty quick. It's not the way this team is built. We're built on strong starts and getting engaged early and we haven't been doing that."