Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Kings throttle Blues 3-0

Allen strong in goal, no offensive support 
against team playing second of back-to-back

ST. LOUIS -- They could have finally made the excuse that they didn't have all their weapons on Tuesday.

But the Blues didn't after a dismal 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings, a team that played the previous night and lost a forward for the final two periods due to injury.

The Blues (8-3-1), who turn around and play at the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday, could not overcome some glaring shortcomings against a Kings team that should have had tired legs after losing to the Blackhawks 4-2 on Monday night.

But instead of utilizing a north-south game, a straight-line game the Blues need to be successful, they tried to play that east-west style that the Kings (8-4-0) pounced on. The result was predictable.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Jake Allen was spectacular for the Blues on Tuesday. He stopped 31 shots
but it wasn't enough in a 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings.

"We didn't play the way we needed to collectively play," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We have one line (Alexander Steen, Jori Lehtera and Vladimir Tarasenko) that for me should have the freedom to play the right way but have the green light to be creative. They can make plays; everybody else should be in in straight lines and we weren't in straight lines and they took advantage of it. We took penalties that took any momentum that we had that we earned; we took it away on penalties early in the first period and they played at a tempo ... we got some good stuff going in the second, but they played at a tempo that we struggled to keep up to. It was an eye-opener for a lot of people.

"Back-to-back games don't make people tired. It's a one-hour flight; it's not a big deal. What is a big deal is the way we tried to play today; that's a big deal. That's something that ... we're not going to have any success playing that way. I don't care who's in, who's out, who's hurt, who's not. We're not going to have any success playing the way we tried playing today. We had too many players today that were way below the bar for us to be successful."

Jake Allen was spectacular in goal for the Blues. He made 31 saves, including an incredible stop on Anze Kopitar early in the first period to keep the game scoreless.

"He was outstanding," Hitchcock said of Allen. "Look, our goalie was great today. He made some great saves. He played his butt off. He kept us right in the game right until the end. He deserves a lot of credit.

"... We tried playing around the game that was there, and they weren't letting us. They were on us and in our face all the time. It's a good eye-opener for a lot of guys today."

Kings backup goalie Jhonas Enroth made 24 saves for his sixth NHL shutout, and Jeff Carter's power play goal was the difference.

Enroth got his first shutout with the Kings. He's allowed one goal in two starts subbing for starter Jonathan Quick.

The Kings lost Kopitar for the final two periods of the game after he sustained an upper-body injury.

Kopitar came from the backside of Blues right wing Ryan Reaves and was hit in the head. Kopitar finished the period.

Carter scored a power-play goal, his eighth point in seven games, during a 4-on-3 man-advantage. Carter took a Drew Doughty pass to the right of Jake Allen, got him to slightly cheat off the right post and put a shot through the Blues' goalie with 4:08 remaining in the second period.

"Yeah, they always try to chip and go backdoor there," Allen said. 

Carter and Tanner Pearson each had a goal and an assist, and Trevor Lewis scored in the third period for the Kings, who have won eight of nine. Los Angeles had their seven-game winning streak end in the 4-2 loss to the Blackhawks.

Playing with several key players out of the lineup because of injury, the Blues feel they have to play a simplified game on order to have success. That never materialized Tuesday.

Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo nearly gave the Blues a 1-0 lead 40 seconds into the first period. His slap shot beat Enroth but off the right post. However, the Blues generated a season-low tying 24 shots and not much traffic in front of Enroth.

"They played last night," Pietrangelo said of the Kings, "but a team that can roll four lines like they did certainly, just like us, it's an advantage."

Allen kept the game scoreless with a highlight-reel save on Kopitar during the Kings' first power play in the first period. The puck came out across to the far side and Allen's left after defenseman Christian Ehrhoff's shot, and Kopitar appeared to have an easy goal. Allen sprawled and made the glove save 3:43 into the game.

"It's desperation. Do whatever it takes," Allen said. "It's my job every game to give the guys a chance. I felt I did that tonight, but the goalie played well on the other end. Just couldn't find a way to get it in tonight."

Pearson scored with 4:33 remaining in the third off a 4-on-2 rush. He took a feed from Brayden McNabb and beat Allen high short side.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (27) is being pursued by the Kings'
Brayden McNabb during action Tuesday at Scottrade Center.

Lewis' empty-netter with 45 seconds remaining sealed the win.

"Part of it's them playing well and part of it's us not playing the game that we needed to play tonight, have four lines, getting the puck behind them, making their 'D' go back for it time and time again and waiting for them to make a mistake," captain David Backes said. "You let those guys breathe too much and get too many opportunities, spend too much time on the power play, eventually they make you pay. They did that tonight and we didn't have much of a response.

"I don't think we need any more risk. We're too high-risk still trying to make those lateral plays in the neutral zone, which makes us have zero zone time. They're turning (us) over and coming back down our throats. If we knock the risk down, just get it behind their defensemen and get in on the forecheck, we get to hem them in the offensive zone for a while and see what they can do to get it out of there. We did it for periods of time tonight but just not often enough and not frequent enough. The result is they outshoot us by 10, being a tired team on a back-to-back."

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