By LOU KORAC
HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Even though the Blues gave up another empty-net goal against the Chicago Blackhawks in a 4-2 loss Sunday night, their 6-on-5 sequence actually looked like there was some merit to it.
What was lacking though was funneling pucks at the net and going for a loose rebound.
When Jake Allen was pulled from goal with 1 minute, 36 seconds remaining, the majority of that time was spent in the Chicago zone, but the Blues spent an awful lot of that time around the perimeter trying to look for that perfect shot, it seemed. But there was substance to what they were doing, according to defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.
"I think last night was a little different in the fact that they had that icing, so we knew they were tired and we didn't call a time out, so we didn't really look to have a set play," Shattenkirk said. "A lot of times you go to the bench and we try to draw something up. I liked last night because we played with a 5-on-5 mentality and we tired them down a little bit and then we waited for everything to up. We had good looks at it and I think it's so tough, especially against a tired team like that.
"You want to funnel pucks to the net, but when they all get tired, there's just five of them sitting in the middle, so you kind of don't have the numbers there. A shot there, it's a loose puck and they have five guys right around it. You've kind of got to get to the inside and that's just more so what we need, to crash the net a little harder on those. But I think we had some good movement and I think that was better than we've had in the past. In the past, we've kind of just made a couple passes and fumbled it and then it's gone down. Last night, we controlled the puck and I think that was more important."
However, Blues coach Mike Yeo is all about volume to the net, and in that situation, there wasn't nearly enough.
"We worked around, we got the real good shot opportunity from 'Petro' that got blocked, but certainly you look at most 6-on-5 goals, generally it's pucks to the net and scrambles around the net," Yeo said. "We'd like to see us create a few more of those.
"I don't believe we've scored a 6-on-5 goal all year and so first off, we'd like to be in that situation a little bit less. I think that's the bigger picture for me, but regardless, when you have a chance ... we had an opportunity where we had a good amount of zone time, we had good puck possession. Certainly there should be an opportunity to get a couple pucks to the net and you have to find different ways to score goals and to get goals through the course of the season and that was one of them."
* Why no call? -- Upon further review, the Blues saw the attempted stick-throwing incident by Chicago's Ryan Hartman late in that game and the Blackhawks holding a 3-2 lead.
Vladimir Tarasenko had the puck in the high slot in the closing seconds of regulation after cutting around a sliding Hartman, and what looked like in video was he tried to throw his stick into the direction of a potential Tarasenko shot or pass. Tarasenko passed to Alexander Steen in the right corner on the goal line, but it was evident the puck needed to be elevated over the stick.
NHL Rule 53.6 states the following:
53.6 Penalty Shot -- When any member of the defending team, including the Coach or any non-playing person, throws or shoots any part of a stick or any other object or piece of equipment at the puck or puck carrier in his defending zone, the Referee or Linesman shall allow the play to be completed and if a goal is not scored, a penalty shot shall be awarded to the non-offending team. This shot shall be taken by the player designated by the Referee as the player fouled.
"Yeah, I do," Yeo said when asked if he felt like something should have been called. "You could have said it didn't disrupt the play because the pass was still completed, but what it did was it caused the puck to go up on end, so we couldn't handle the puck real clean. They got away with it; that stuff happens.
"It was one of those where you watch the video and you realize it. When you're watching the game, you're following the puck. It's a tough one, but what can you do?"
Added Shattenkirk: "Absolutely. That's clear as day. I didn't see it last night in the game. I was kind of caught on the other side. It was hard for me to see that, but that's a tough one to watch after the game."
Said center Paul Stastny: "I saw a video of it, but what are you going to do? I don't know how much time was left. I don't know if it affected the play that much, but we had our chances before and nothing went in."
* Stastny snake-bitten -- Stastny must have had nightmares about Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling, who easily robbed Stastny of a potential hat trick in Sunday's game, making a trio of saves.
One came in the first period and two more came in the third. The two in the third either kept the game tied 2-2 or protected Chicago's 3-2 lead.
"It happens," Stastny said. "Could have gone either way. We did a good job kind of battling back and we had a couple chances. Obviously 'Snake' made some good saves for us. That's a game where we've got to find a way to get it to overtime and go from there. It's an unfortunate loss. Probably three or our ... the one even there at the end kind of banked off behind the net and I had a tough angle and it would have gone in. Sometimes it goes like that, and that's fine. You stick with it and you keep kind of creating those chances and they're gonna go. We talked about this before, it's a long year and there's going to be nights where you don't get much and somehow you find a way to score and there's nights you get a bunch and nothing goes in. You build off that and you try to take the positives out of that."
On the one where Darling fully extended his 6-foot-6 eight leg early in the third that could have given the Blues a 3-2 lead, Stastny said it happened so fast.
"That was just me," Stastny said. "I was just trying to use my upper body instead of kind of coming to the puck because it was rolling, too. I tried going quick. With a rolling puck, I didn't get too much wood on it, but if I lean more on my right side just to get a little more power and stay down on it, I could get it up. You see that in your head sometimes where you want to do it as quick as you can and then there's times where maybe you should take that extra second and try to get it up because he's so big down low."
* Paajarvi elevated -- After another strong performance with a fourth goal in 10 games since being recalled, Magnus Paajarvi took a twirl in practice with Stastny and Alexander Steen on the right wing of the top line, as Yeo reunited the "STL Line" back together at practice.
Paajarvi looks like a changed player, one playing with a ton of confidence and one that looks poised to remain with the big club this go-round.
"My confidence is way higher," said Paajarvi, who scored in the first period Sunday. "I believe in what I do and I want to attack. That's the biggest change.
"Obviously goals helps. Obviously a little opportunity helps, but you've got to capitalize on them, too and I have so far and I've got to keep doing that. When things fall into place, the confidence is even better and better. Right now it's in a good place."
Yeo said Paajarvi deserves the look.
"He's earned it, and it wasn't just a matter of last night," Yeo said. "last night he was involved in four quality scoring chances, a big goal. He's played a responsible game. I like his speed, I like his energy that he brings right now. That's what you want to have. You want to have guys when they get an opportunity, when they're playing well and they deserve an opportunity that you reward them for it. He's certainly one of those."
Stastny said Paajarvi has been good.
"I think he's been everything you could ask for," Stastny said. "I think when he's at his best, he's moving. He's got so much speed, it opens up space when you have the puck and at the same time, I think whether it's on the forecheck or whether it's in the offensive zone, you know where he's going to be. To me, the easiest players are the guys that you know where they're going to be. In a game like this, I think you need all five guys on the same page."
The Blues (31-25-5) host Edmonton on Tuesday, and Paajarvi would love a chance with two top-line players
"That would be awesome," Paajarvi said. "They're obviously big stars in the league and it would be cool to play with them. Hopefully I play with them tomorrow, but we'll see. ... If I get the chance, I'm not going to change.
"I haven't tried to change at all. I try to stay within me and do my things. Really no changes. Don't try to adapt to any line. Just kind of do your own thing and control myself and it's been big."
* Reaves misses practice, Barbashev update -- Blues right wing Ryan Reaves was the lone notable to miss practice on Monday.
Yeo said Reaves blocked a shot Sunday night and was getting his foot checked out, and his status for Tuesday is not known.
"'Reavo' was just getting his foot looked at," Yeo said. "He blocked a shot last night. I haven't got word yet on how he's going to be. He's getting an X-ray we'll find out shortly on how he is."
As for center Ivan Barbashev, Yeo said nothing's changed other than, "He's coming along; that's all I know. He skated yesterday and so he's getting closer."
* Conklin in town -- Blues developmental goalie coach Ty Conklin was on the ice working with Allen and Carter Hutton, something assistant general manager Marty Brodeur has exclusively done since the Blues replaced Jim Corsi as goalie coach on Feb. 1 after firing head coach Ken Hitchcock.
Conklin has been working with the Blues' goalies from the AHL on down and was at United Center last night for the Blues-Blackhawks game.
"He's been doing a great job with our goalies down in Chicago and he's obviously got a good relationship with the guys here," Yeo said of Conklin. "I guess for Marty, the coaching is too tiring for him. He needed a day off today. He actually might have some other responsibilities today, but it's nice to have Ty come in and he's got a lot of familiarity. I know him and Marty have been talking all year long. They're very much on the same page, so you don't have any concerns about mixed messages, so it was nice for the goalies."
With the NHL Trade Deadline approaching at 2 p.m. (CT), Brodeur has his time wrapped up with management as they approach what they will do in and around the deadline.
* Blues in frustrating 0-3-0 slide -- The Blues' three-game losing streak has certainly come at a bad time, but what's more frustrating is that in each games, they were in position to grab points and came away with nothing.
"For me, I've looked at the last three games and there are some positives," Yeo said. "I would say you look at all those games and I think that you point to any of them and you say that we could have won that game. Last night it's 2-2 and we've got a couple good opportunities to maybe grab the lead. The Florida game, we're four seconds away from at least securing a point. In Buffalo, we had a lot of zone time, a lot of shots, but the difference for me is the last few games, we've left it up to chance. It could have gone either way, but obviously it didn't. I think that our execution and probably more so our details haven't been quite the same. A couple of the goals that we've given up, those are very much in our control, things that we were a little bit sharper, areas we were a little bit sharper two week ago. We've gotten just a little bit softer and when you do that, you leave things up to chance.
"Even last night, there were large chunks of the game that looked good. There's just too many pieces in between those chunks that aren't good enough and so we looked at some video today, we looked at some areas that we need to get better. I thought practice was good, so we'll be ready for another good test tomorrow."