Saturday, December 17, 2016

Blues squander four one-goal leads, fall 6-4 to Blackhawks

Despite two goals from Berglund, St. Louis can't 
hold third-period lead for second time in three games

ST. LOUIS -- Four times, the Blues led the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night.

And four times, the Blues couldn't build on those leads and couldn't close out in the end.

The result was a 6-4 loss to the division-leading Blackhawks on Saturday night before 19,197 at Scottrade Center.

Patrik Berglund scored twice in a game for the first time in 68 games, Kyle Brodziak and Alex Pietrangelo scored for the Blues (17-11-4), who have lost three of four, and Jake Allen made 30 saves but lost for the first time in regulation on home ice (11-1-2) and had his eight-game home winning streak snapped. 
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues goalie Jake Allen and teammate David Perron (57) defend a shot
from Chicago's Ryan Hartman on Saturday.

But the story for the Blues, who trail Chicago (21-8-4) by eight points in the Central Division, was the inability to hold onto a third-period lead for the second time in the past three games, and both against divisional foes. 

"We didn't have control of anything. Nothing," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "They were controlling the game. The best we played was when it was 4-4. Best we played in the game. We took advantage of our opportunities, but we couldn't get them closed off in our own zone. They scored three goals in front of the net, beat us at the net. They extended zone time by pulling the puck off the boards down low and started their cycle game. We couldn't get it stopped down low against that top line and we got beat at our net, I think for three anyways. 

"... We got outworked. For some of our younger players, this can be a real lesson. They dialed it up. It could be a real eye-opener for some of our guys hopefully. They really dialed it up."

The Blues led 4-3 heading into the third when Niklas Hjalmarsson tied the game one minutes into the period on a one-timer off Jay Bouwmeester's stick and between Jake Allen's pads to tie the game, and Vinnie Hinostroza sent a backhand past Allen following a rebound from Brent Seabrook's shot that caromed off Blues defenseman Joel Edmundson to give Chicago their first lead of the game at 5-4 with 4:25 remaining.

"I blocked the shot off my leg, but I couldn’t really find it and it went on his stick," Edmundson said. "It was a tough one, but he shouldn’t have been in front of the net anyway. I take the blame for that one."

It was the second time in the game the Blues got beat at the net.

"It’s not good enough," Allen said. "If we want to be a top team in the League and catch the top team in our division, we need to be better than that. We had spurts, but not enough spurts."  

The Blues led 1-0, 2-1, 3-2 and 4-3 and couldn't close it out.

"Very disappointing," said Berglund, who has three goals in two games after one in the first 30 games this season. "We've got to figure out how to play 5-on-5. Obviously they scored way too many goals when we were 5-on-5, so that's something we've got to figure out."

Berglund scored on a breakaway 41 seconds into the game after getting a stretch pass from Joel Edmundson and squirting a shot through Scott Darling. 

But Chicago tied it 1-1 with 25.2 seconds left when Dennis Rasmussen scored on a rebound, beating Kevin Shattenkirk at the net off Richard Panik's shot.

The teams combined for five goals in the second period.

The Blues went ahead 2-1 when Brodziak's shot hit a broken stick (Scottie Upshall's) on the ice and through Darling's pads 3:12 into the period.

But Patrick Kane tied it 2-2 on a breakaway at 10:44, getting behind the Blues defense.

Berglund's second of the game put the Blues ahead at 14:35 on a perfect tic-tac-toe passing display with Alexander Steen and David Perron, but Brian Campbell tied it 3-3 with 1:01 remaining after getting behind the Blues' defense and getting an Artemi Panarin pass.

But the Blues grabbed the lead on Pietrangelo's goal; it put the Blues ahead for the fourth time in the game with 11.6 remaining when he took Edmundson's one-time pass.

But just like Tuesday in Nashville when the Blues blew a 3-2 lead leading into the third, they blew this one, too.

"That’s why they’re one of the best in the league for the last six years—they find ways to win games," Allen said. "They’re definitely deflating on our part. We can’t let that happen, especially at the end of periods. Especially with 'Petro' to be able to get that big goal there to break the tie. I just didn’t think we had a whole lot of juice in the third."
(St. Louie Blues photo)
Blues center Patrik Berglund reacts after scoring one of two goals on
Saturday in a 6-4 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

"I felt the game when it was 4-4 was stabilized, but we put them on the power play ... you put this team on the power play three or four times and we don't get a power play, you're dealing with fire," Hitchcock said. "We turned the puck over with six minutes left and put them on the power play in our own zone. Kane ... that was a heck of a save by Jake and then we killed it off right until the end and got beat at the net. Got beat in the corner and got beat at the net.

"Our execution 5-on-5 is good enough to beat certain teams, but if we want to play with the top dogs, we're going to have to execute at a higher level. Our determination on our 1-on-1's is going to have to increase dramatically if we want to play with the big dogs. You want to give this to emerging players. Well, that's what it is today. That's what's out there. That was a real good eye-opener. We were right there, but we're going to need way more participants as far as the 1-on-1's, net-fronts and stuff like that."

The loss dropped the Blues to to 13-2-3 overall at home.

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