Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Red Wings rally late, drop Blues in a shootout

Two late Franzen goals tie it, Bertuzzi shootout goal wins it

ST. LOUIS -- When the Blues were essentially forced to kill off a five-minute major penalty given to Ryan Reaves in a scoreless game in the third period, it didn't bode well for the home side.

But instead of wilting under the scrutiny of a questionable call made that tossed Reaves from the game on what clearly was a clean check on Detroit's Brad Stuart, the Blues looked adversity in the eye and beat it.

At least temporarily they did.
(Getty Images)
The Blues' Chris Stewart checks Detroit's Brad Stuary Wednesday night.

David Perron's fourth goal in as many games came on the ensuing shorthanded sequence, and Andy McDonald thought he added an insurance tally, but those Detroit Red Wings would rally, getting a pair of late Johan Franzen goals, then Todd Bertuzzi scored the only goal in the shootout as the Wings grabbed two crucial points in a 3-2 win Wednesday night at Scottrade Center.

The win helped the Wings (48-27-5) leapfrog Nashville into fourth place in the Western Conference by a point when it all looked bleak as the Blues (48-21-11) led 2-0.

It was a sour ending for the Blues, who could have pulled within a point of Western Conference-leading Vancouver and one in back of the New York Rangers, who lead the race for the Presidents' Trophy. It was the Blues' 10th shootout loss in 14 attempts, with seven of those results being 1-0 losses.

Had the Blues won, not as much would have been made of the Reaves penalty, one in which coach Ken Hitchcock did not like the call. Reaves caught Stuart with a shoulder hit from the side and caught most of the end boards, but Brad Watson send Reaves off for the boarding penalty and a game-misconduct.

"I didn't like the call," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "I've got to see it closer, but what I saw on the replay and what I was told, I didn't like the call."

The Blues also got the raw end of a non-call on Franzen, who got mixed up with David Backes at the end of the second period in which Franzen knocked Backes to the ice, then popped the Blues captain with a jab to the jaw. No calls from Watson or Ian Walsh were made.

But in the best possible fashion, not only did the Blues kill off the Wings' power play, Perron was able to pick off a Jakub Kindl pass intended for Valtteri Filppula and beat Jimmy Howard with a backhand top shelf shot 7 minutes 18 seconds into the third period for a 1-0 lead.

McDonald picked off Kindl again, with help from Alex Steen's back-check, skated in on Howard and snapped a shot into the net at 10:19 for a 2-0 lead.

But then the Wings finally broke through on the barrier laid out by Brian Elliott, who came into the start on the heels of three consecutive shutouts. Franzen finally beat Elliott to end the Blues' franchise record and Elliott's personal best 241:33.

The first goal came with 6:05 remaining when Franzen took a Pavel Datsyuk pass.

Franzen would tie it with 3:50 remaining, taking another Datsyuk pass through the crease and wristing a shot from the right circle into the top corner, a goal Hitchcock blamed on himself as the Blues got caught with the wrong personnel on the ice.

"For the most part, it was my fault," Hitchcock said. "The second goal, I had the wrong people on the ice. We got caught on a line change and it ended up in our net ... my fault.
(Getty Images)
Blues defenseman Barret Jackman (left) moves in to try and get the puck from
Detroit's Ian White in Wednesday night's game.

"We turned it into a track meet a little bit, but when we were up 2-0, we played very well. We controlled the game five-on-five, played very very well. We did a lot of good things and then started kind of playing on the move in the last 10 minutes or so and got caught. We forced it. On the second goal we forced it offensively when we could have protected the puck. We were 80 percent puck management, but the little bit against (No.) 13 (Datsyuk) ... we held him in check, we did a great job against him and we got caught with the wrong people on the ice against him and he made two good plays ... he made two real good plays."

The Blues, who are 0-1-2 in the last three games and 3-3-4 in the last 10, lost a bit of an edge late.

We got a little too comfortable with a 2-0 lead and they poured it on us and capitalized on a couple of our mistakes and ended up finding a way to win the game.

"Our penalty kill did a great job killing our penalty, which was a little bit of a turning point in the game and then we responded by getting another one, but from there on in, I think guys took too much of an easy breath and they came at us. We have to learn from that."

Added winger T.J. Oshie: "We got away from checking and limiting their chances in the offensive zone. Obviously they're going to get them, they're a great team. They have some high-end skill on their team, but we can't be giving up goals like we did.

"I think we did feed off of Perry's goal there, but we've got to stay on it. There's going to be games like this. It was as close to a playoff atmosphere as we've had. We've got to learn how to play a full game without any hiccups there."

The Blues went back to the drawing board after a pair of lackluster games in losses to Chicago and Columbus. If they can take anything from this shootout loss, this was more their style of game.

"We did a lot of real good things," Hitchcock said. "You've got to be happy with it. I'm disappointed more in myself. I don't make that mistake that late in the game very often, but I made the mistake. So I'm more disappointed in myself than I am in anything. ... We played exactly the way we have to play to win hockey games. But we made a couple defensive errors, we didn't protect the puck at the right time, but overall, there's a lot of good things to build on."

* NOTES -- The Blues' scratches included forwards Scott Nichol, B.J. Crombeen, Chris Porter and Jaden Schwartz as well as defensemen Kent Huskins and Ian Cole. ... The Red Wings have now earned an NHL-record 100 or more points in 12 straight seasons.

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