Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Blues scoring drought continues in 2-1 loss to Oilers

Season-long fourth straight loss culminated by six total goals in streak

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues picked a bad time to go into a goal drought.

What makes it worse is they sent their top offensive defenseman packing on Monday.

The Blues scored first but couldn't sustain it, as Edmonton got goals from Milan Lucic and Mark Letestu in a 2-1 victory over the Blues Tuesday at Scottrade Center, their season-high fourth straight loss.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues center Paul Stastny (right) deflects a puck past Oilers goalie Cam
Talbot. Despite the goal, the Blues fell to the Oilers 2-1.

During those four losses, the Blues (31-26-5) have scored six goals and have been outscored 11-6. And with another loss, they fell two more points behind Nashville for third in the Central Division and trail by six, and they fell five points behind Calgary, who hold the first wildcard spot in the Western Conference and the Los Angeles Kings with their overtime loss to the Flames are now just one point back of the Blues.

"I think right now just seems way it's going, got to get out of this rut any possible way," said center Paul Stastny, who scored for the Blues tonight. "Sometimes you've got to score nice goals. It seems when you find a couple losses in a row, then you start pressing harder and you play a different game, but I thought there were times where we played hesitant. Then I think we started playing the way we wanted to play, a little more fearless, more aggressive, and that's when we started playing better. ... We were a little fragile after the first goal, and that's what happens when you've lost a couple and you're playing too safe. When 'Snake' (Jake Allen) plays like that, we've got to find a way to get a couple more goals in."

"It's not good enough obviously," Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo said. "We've lost, what, four in a row now? Gotta find a way to score some goals now. We gave up two tonight, Jake made some big saves, but we've go to find a way to get some ugly goals. We've got to find a way to get around the net, take more shots. It's been a theme. We've been getting a lot of good chances, but we've got to find a way to score some ugly ones."

Allen made 23 saves. 

The Blues played their first game since trading Kevin Shattenkirk to the Washington Capitals.

"Yeah, I mean I thought about it maybe the first power-play there and then we scored, so that was nice," right wing David Perron said of Shattenkirk. "Great play by 'Petro.'"

Stastny put the Blues ahead 1-0 with a power-play goal at 11:07 of the first period. Stastny positioned himself perfectly at the top of the crease and was able to redirect Pietrangelo's shot past Oilers goalie Cam Talbot, who made 25 saves.

And it was Pietrangelo taking Shattenkirk's spot on the first-unit power-play.

"Yeah, I know the way a lot of the guys play," Pietrangelo said. "We've played together for five years now, most of us. I've had a lot of opportunities to watch them this year, they've been together for a while, so the transition felt OK tonight. We got one there, but it would have been nice to get another one."

But this is when the Blues allowed themselves to get in trouble when Lucic's slap shot from the top of the left circle that hit the stick of Blues defenseman Joel Edmundson and deflected off Allen's glove at 44 seconds later tied the game 1-1.

"I thought our first period, again, it's similar, have a great start, when they scored, mistakes happened in the game, when they scored, all of a sudden, we started watching them," Blues coach Mike Yeo said. "It was like we were waiting for the next bad thing to happen and we stopped playing. That was the difference in the game because at that point, they drew the 5-on-3 and got the go-ahead goal. The second period we started to get more on our toes, get after them. But not nearly enough shots, not nearly enough net-front presence, third period was a little better but unfortunately too little, too late."

With the Oilers on a 5-on-3 power play for 1:34 after a Magnus Paajarvi slash and Colton Parayko delay of game, Letestu made it 2-1 with 15 seconds left in the two-man advantage and 41 seconds into the second period after Allen made a sprawling save on Connor McDavid.

Oilers right wing Leon Draisaitl thought he put Edmonton ahead late in the first during its 5-on-3, but Allen got his paddle on the shot with 15 seconds left in the first.

The Blues are getting the defensive game and goaltending. Now putting pucks into the net are hurting.

"We've got to do more of little things," Pietrangelo said. "I think we can be a little more aggressive. We're sitting back a little more than we need to, especially in our own end. That, (coupled) with not scoring is not really a good recipe."
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues defenseman Colton Parayko (left) looks to move the puck by Oilers
forward Mark Letestu, who scored the game-winner in a 2-1 Edmonton win.

And with the Blues not being able to find the tying goal to at least grab a point for a fourth straight game, frustration is clearly evident.

"We're not winning, I think everyone's pissed off around here," Stastny said. "We know how valuable points are. We want to take it in own hands. We can't be sitting here relying on other teams to hope they lose and give us some breathing room. I think said earlier, I think the beauty of last 20 games this season is, it seems everyone you play is a playoff game or some kind of playoff implications where it's a two- or four-point game. All but three games for us are against Western Conference (teams). It just goes how important the next game is. Maybe it's good for us to not look too far ahead and just worry about things we can fix and worry about Winnipeg next."

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