Saturday, March 14, 2015

Pair of late goals cost Blues in 3-1 loss to Wild

Despite outshooting Minnesota 42-19, St. Louis falls 
out of first in division after Niederreiter, Brodziak score late

ST. LOUIS -- The stat sheet reads the Blues peppered the Minnesota Wild and goalie Devan Dubnyk with 42 shots, which typically is good enough to win on most nights.

Not on this night.

And not when the volume of shots are relegated the perimeter.

The Blues squandered a chance at two points Saturday night against a Wild side that played Friday night against a heavy Anaheim Ducks team (and lost 2-1).
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Paul Stastny (right) and the Blues couldn't solve Jonas Brodin (left) and
the Minnesota Wild in a 3-1 loss Saturday night.

But since acquiring Dubnyk from the Arizona Coyotes, the Wild are on a 20-5-1 run (all with Dubnyk in goal). The Blues fired 42 shots at him and all but one of them, he kept out of the net in a 3-1 Minnesota victory before 19,638 at Scottrade Center.

Dubnyk, who entered the game 0-7-0 against the Blues with a 4.72 goals-against average and .843 save percentage, improved to 20-5-1 with the Wild.

"I tried not to think about it before but this was kind of my unicorn here," Dubnyk said of facing the Blues. "I got my first start against these guys in Edmonton and it was real ugly. For some reason, it didn’t seem to matter how good I felt in a game against these guys, it always seemed to end up 4-1 or 5-1 by the end of the game. It’s nice to get out there with a different team and get one tonight so I can stop thinking about it."

Dubnyk was bombarded with shots, including 21 of them in the second period, but he was able to keep thwart all attempts.

Coach Mike Yeo is glad to go back with Dubnyk on back-to-back nights. 

He finally got some help from Nino Niederreiter and Kyle Brodziak, who scored 17 seconds apart late in the third period.

The Blues (43-20-5), who head off to Dallas for the start of a six-game trip beginning Sunday, lamented the fact that they had a tired team in their building that hadn't won in regulation here since Oct. 20, 2007 (the Blues were 9-0-3 in that stretch).

Coupled with Nashville's 2-1 victory at Los Angeles Saturday, the Blues fell out of first place by two points (93-91). They still have two games in hand.

Of course one would think to credit the opposing goalie for "stealing" a game, sort of like Steve Mason tried to do to the Blues on Thursday in a 1-0 shootout victory by St. Louis, but unlike that game where the goalie made several incredible stops, the Blues felt like they made the game easier for Dunbyk to play in with the lack of interior chances.

"I don't know that we had enough penetration in and around the net area," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "It's two games in a row where we have lots of shots but mostly perimeter, not enough net drive.

"No real second and third chances. That's how you're going to score. If they're going to sit in their zone and they're going to sit on the inside, you're going to have to fight a little bit harder for second and third chances. Not enough of those."

And going back seven periods plus an overtime, the Blues have two goals on 93 shots (including a Barret Jackman fluky shot).

"We didn't get the job done. That's the bottom line," captain David Backes said. "They played hard long enough, the goalie played well long enough, but we didn't get the job done. It's two points that we squandered away. We had a pretty good effort, but we don't get a job done.

"Forty-two shots, we only get one goal, it doesn't matter who's in net, we need to have better production than that finishing shots and finding ways. Whether he saw too many of them, or we shot them in his chest, whatever it is, we've got to score more goals on 42 shots. Didn't get a job done. We had a tired team in here that we get (21) shots on in one period and they walk out of here with two points -- pretty disappointing."

And despite large amounts of territorial ice in the Wild zone, the Blues couldn't finish plays, or they'd make one (or two) too many passes or simply put pucks right in Dubnyk's 6-foot-6 frame.

"He played well; we're not going to take anything away from him, but that's two games in a row we've had a lot of good opportunities and can't find ways to score," defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said of Dubnyk. "If you're putting up that many shots ... we've got to find ways to put those in.

"We've done some really good things the last couple games, especially this game. We played well. Whether it's bearing down a little bit more in front, maybe get a little more traffic. I'm not sure; we'll take a look at it, but in game, it felt like we were getting a lot of good opportunities, a lot of good looks. The second period, I thought we really dominated for most of that period in their zone, wore them down."

And the Blues got a goal from Backes, when he scored his 23rd goal at 4:57 of the second period on a tipped shot of Alexander Steen's wrist shot from the blue line upstairs over Dubnyk nine seconds after a Blues power play ended to make it a 1-0 game. That was the opportunity to pounce and extend the lead and mentally wear a tired team down that lost a defenseman (Nate Prosser) in the first period to a lower-body injury.

Instead, the Wild are 1-1 going into the third period and find a way to score twice late on what Hitchcock called "two mistakes."

Niederreiter's 22nd goal came off a rebound with 6:33 remaining and Brodziak lifted a backhand goal past Blues goalie Brian Elliott after a Vladimir Tarasenko turnover tripping over teammate Zbykek Michalek's skate 17 seconds later to break a 1-1 tie.

"We made two mistakes. I don't know, did they have 10 scoring chances," Hitchcock said. "Probably not. We made two mistakes and they end up in our net. We left the game out there after two periods. We left it out there, and then we had a chance to really amp it up in the third. The third period was kind of even. They got some wind at the start of the third and away it went.

"They had to play for their goalie and they did. The game was even. I think the thing that concerns me is we've given up points here lately in the third period. We've had games where you've just got to take points from games and we've let them slip. That's the bigger concern for me. The other part for me is we've made changes in the lines and we haven't scored. We're going to have to decide what we want to do there, too."

Added Backes: "Don't have a solution for you or I would have fixed it. This time of year, we can't have any excuses. We've got a sour taste in our mouth right now for good reason because we don't finish some plays when we've got good opportunities. We've got them hemmed in for a couple of changes, great chances and don't put it by the goaltender. The result is we have a little lapse, they score two goals in a short amount of time and walk out of here with two points. Again, we had a tired team in here that we felt -- I don't know if we thought it was going to be easy in the third or what -- but they didn't let off the gas, we did, they put two in our net, we don't get any."

And even after the Blues grabbed the lead, instead of pouncing, they gave the Wild life.

Zach Parise thought he tied the game 13 seconds after Backes' goal when he redirected Jared Spurgeon's shot from the right point past Elliott, but after review, it was determined Parise directed the puck in with his skate and the goal was disallowed.   

It didn't matter, when Thomas Vanek's 17th goal and 600th NHL point tied the game at 5:43 of the second off a feed from Justin Fontaine to the slot. Vanek one-timed a shot over Elliott's glove after the Blues got caught with their fourth line on the ice and had coverage issues in their zone. 

"Yeah, it always takes the wind out of you when your job is to kind of bring it back," said goalie Brian Elliott, who made 16 saves and lost to the Wild for the first time in his career (6-1-0). "I thought we did. We brought it back to them and had a lot of zone time.

"It's disappointing, especially the way it happened in the third period. We put up a lot of shots and we had a lot of zone time. I thought we played a pretty good game for the most part. I definitely want to have those two, but didn't and we didn't get the win."

St. Louis outshot Minnesota (38-24-7) 21-5 in the second and held most of the offensive zone time, but failed to take the lead. 

The Blues thought they took a 1-0 lead 1:41 into the game when Patrik Berglund's tip of Jay Bouwmeester's shot hit the net and initially ruled a goal. Officials went to video review to determine if Berglund had touched the puck with a high stick and quickly ruled he didn’t. 

But right before the puck was dropped, another review was needed. After a second look, it was obvious the puck never went in and hit the side netting instead of going in, and the goal was waved off.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Defenseman Zbynek Michalek (6) made his Blues debut Saturday against
the Minnesota Wild and Nino Niederreiter. The Blues lost 3-1.

"I don't think we played that bad; it's just we couldn't score," Elliott said. "He played well at the other end. When you put up that many shots, you expect to come away with the win or put some goals in. We didn't get it done tonight. We've got a quick turnaround and play another good team at home in Dallas. It's a good opportunity to bounce right back."

The Blues' trip will take them to Dallas, Calgary, Winnipeg, Minnesota, Detroit and Pittsburgh.

"We've got to put it behind us, but if we don't learn a lesson from tonight when you've got a team where you feel like you've got a heck of a second period going there, if you can't step on their throat and really put them down, we're going to repeat history's past," Backes said. "A little glimpse into a problem we had last year and we're going to need to rectify it and get on it -- no excuses -- move forward and bring our game."

No comments:

Post a Comment