Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Blues lose game, key forward

Team squanders 3-0 lead, fall in shootout;
Sobotka leaves in first period after hit to head

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Blues coach Ken Hitchcock is getting a good evaluation on the young players in the system.

With the veteran coach, it's all about earning the trust of the coaches and giving them the confidence to bring these players into the fold if needed.

Dmitrij Jaskin is stating his case in a large way. He's had an impressive camp, he had a good showing at the prospects tournament in Traverse City, Mich. and in his preseason debut Wednesday night, Jaskin netted a pair of goals but the Blues dropped a 4-3 shootout decision to the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amway Center.

(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues forward Dmitrij Jaskin (26) scored two goals Wednesday night in
a 4-3 shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Orlando.
Jaskin, the team's second round pick (41st overall) in 2011, has the makings of being the prototypical power forward with size (6-foot-2, 196 pounds), good hands, and solid speed for a big man.

He teamed up on left wing to begin the game with fellow second round pick Ty Rattie (32nd pick in 2011) and Vladimir Sobotka, using his body to score one goal, then camping himself in the slot and using his body to deflect in another.

It was an impressive showing for a player Hitchcock said from the moment the Blues brought him into the fold late last season that this would be a player for the organization in the not-too-distant future.

"Of course I liked my game tonight, but we lost," Jaskin said. "That's bad. Getting two goals was nice, but we still lost.

"Both (Rattie and Sobotka) are perfect players. Sobe is one of the best players and Rattie, same age like me. ... I thought we had some good shifts."

The Blues got on the board first on Jaskin's wraparound goal, beating Cedric Desjardins to the right post 12:52 into the opening period.

Overshadowing Jaskin's solid performance for the Blues was losing the versatile Sobotka, who took a shot the head from the Lightning's Adam Erne near the Blues' blue line.

Sobotka was skating with the puck and was lined up by Erne, who lined up Sobotka got him high with a shoulder check that drew a two-minute illegal check to the head penalty.

Sobotka was on the ice for a minute or so with trainer Ray Barile before departing the ice. He did not return to the game after the team announced he suffered an upper-body injury. He will be re-evaluated Thursday in St. Louis. He got dressed afterwards and was able to leave the arena on his own but had a noticeable welt under his left eye, the point of contact from the hit.

Hitchcock said he feels the league will look at the hit but was more concerned with Sobotka. He was asked if his team should have come up with a response for Erne.

"Those are delicate issues within the team," Hitchcock said. "... You probably would like to see a response there. You want to become a team.

"Once he comes in the room, the doctor makes the call (if Sobotka returns). We won't know for another day."

Blues forward Chris Stewart called the hit, "a straight shot to the head."

"It's an 18-year-old kid," Stewart said of Erne. "I don't know how it's going to look when one of our heavies goes out there and tries to attack him."

Jaskin got his second of the game on a deflection of Taylor Chorney's shot along the left boards, tipping the Chorney shot upstairs into the net 1:52 into the second period for a 2-0 Blues lead.

Jaden Schwartz made it 3-0 when he beat backup Kristers Gudlevskis with a snap shot in the high slot with 4:04 left in the second for a 3-0 St. Louis lead.

The Lightning finally got on the board when Erne, camped out in front of Elliott, tipped Mark Barberio's shot from the blue line on the power play with 1:14 remaining in the second to cut the Blues' lead to 3-1.

(Getty Images)
The Blues lost versatile forward Vladimir Sobotka (17) in the first period
after he took a hit to the head from Tampa Bay's Adam Erne.
Erne struck again on the power play, this time 1:31 into the third period when he was camped out all alone in front of Elliott, took a pass from Cedric Paquette and curled the puck past Elliott to make it a 3-2 game.

The Lightning came all the way back to even the score 3-3 when Tom Pyatt raced past Jani Hakanpaa and beats Elliott with a short-side wrister from the left circle with 10:49 left in the third period.

The Blues lost it in the shootout when Rattie and Stewart were not able to convert on their shootout opportunities. The Lightning got goals from Valtteri Filppula and the winner from Erne.

They lost a 3-0 lead and were scrambling towards the ladder stages.

"No, I don't think it fell apart. We lost energy in the third period," Hitchcock said. "We made tired plays with the puck, we made mistakes killing penalties. Two games in a row, we've made a lot of errors killing penalties. We've got people who don't ever kill penalties killing penalties. We've made a lot of errors 5-on-4. Our 5-on-5 play, we've generated quite a bit."

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