Thursday, October 9, 2014

Fluke bounce ends up costing Blues in loss to Rangers

Nash goal with 1:50 to play snatches at 
least a point from St. Louis in home opener

ST. LOUIS -- Alex Pietrangelo had the puck on his stick, ready to whip it off the boards in front of him out of danger in the Blues' zone.

It seemed like a harmless enough of a play. 

What transpired next had the Blues baffled and scratching their heads in the 2014-15 season and home opener.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Paul Stastny (26) scored his first goal as a Blue Thursday night against the
New York Rangers but Henrik Lundqvist (30) and New York won 3-2.

Rick Nash's second goal of the game and third point of the night with 1 minute, 50 seconds remaining gave the New York Rangers a 3-2 victory against the Blues before 19,183 packed into Scottrade Center.

The Blues, who started slow in allowing 16 Ranger shots and seemed at times discombobulated and passing up scoring opportunities, got the game back on their terms and were poised to grab the two points, but were the victims of a fluky sequence.

After Pietrangelo fired the puck off the left side glass, the puck took a funny carom off the stanchion and instead of being out of the zone, the puck caromed back into the high slot at the stick of Martin St. Louis. St. Louis flipped the puck to Nash, who calmly beat Brian Elliott with a wrist shot top shelf stick side to snatch at least a point from the Blues, who scored twice in the third period to erase one-goal deficits.

"Tough way to lose a game when something like that happens," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "... For something like that, you feel bad for the players because if the puck goes off the glass, we're looking at a 3-on-1. Their defenseman is out of position, three forwards are trapped.  Puck goes off the stanchion and it's a 2-on-1 right back in our net."

Elliott said he was prepared and spotted the puck immediately. He felt helpless.

"I knew exactly where it was," Elliott said. "You're in between trying to tell your guys and not tell their guys. You're hoping your guys see it and come back and just be ready for it. (St. Louis) made a pretty slick play to settle it down and get it across the crease there for their goal. 

"... That last one's just a tough bounce. I know we talk about working hard for your bounces. Nobody worked hard for that one. That was lucky." 

Chris Kreider each had a goal and an assist, and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 23 shots to beat the Blues for the first time in his career. Lundqvist now owns wins against all 29 other teams.

Jaden Schwartz had a goal and an assist for the Blues, who also got a goal from Paul Stastny, his first as a Blue. Elliott stopped 22 shots.

"'Ells' kept us in it that first and we tried making too many passes," Stastny said. "We played the game the way we wanted as the game went on and it was just kind of a bad bounce there off the glass. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't. You've just got to deal with it."

The Blues know it was a bad break that went against them, but there will come a time when that break goes their way.

"No excuses ... we've got to be better," Blues captain David Backes said.

The Blues lost Stastny late in the second period when Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi stuck his left leg out and brought down the Blues' center with 4:22 remaining in the second period but he returned for the third period.

"It's a little tender right now," said Stastny, who indicated that it was his quad and not his knee. "... I went around (Girardi). I think he was beat. 

"He's an honest player; just a natural reaction. He tried to get a piece of me for me not to beat him."

Stastny, who signed a four-year, $28 million contract this summer to join the Blues, did not return for the remainder of the period but came back for the third period.

Nash, who now has 23 goals and 43 points in 51 career games against the Blues, snapped a shot from the high slot past Elliott 4:01 into the game. 

Chris Kreider stripped Kevin Shattenkirk from behind in the Blues' zone and was able to set up Nash with the high percentage shot, as the Rangers had the better of the play in the first period. They outshot the Blues 16-8.

"First period was skill ahead of work," Hitchcock said. "We wanted to put on a show; they weren't having anything to do with it. Quick, fast forwards, very aggressive. Once we settled and played in the second and third periods, we really played."

The Blues got their game back, and did so by, "We started to play north," Hitchcock said. "We started playing in straight lines. We're still not close to where we need to shoot the puck a lot more, but we started to really play north. We put a lot of pressure on them. I thought we were wearing on them in the second and third period."

Schwartz finally broke Lundqvist's shutout bid when he charged the net after Backes threw a puck towards the goal and scooted past John Moore. Schwartz popped a backhand over Lundqvist's glove at 1:32 of the third period after the Rangers goalie left a juicy rebound and tried to poke it away from the crease.

"It's never been our recipe for success to try and make ESPN's Top 10 by any means," Backes said. "We've got to shoot pucks, find some ugly ones and we'll have success. That's what we did when we finally did score. Shot, rebound, and (Schwartz) puts one in."  

Krieder scored the go-ahead goal to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead 6:30 into the third period when Nash sprung Kreider loose on a breakaway, and he beat Elliott short side. 

What was disappointing is it came after T.J. Oshie's third career fight and first since Feb. 19, 2013 when he pummeled the Rangers' Mats Zuccarello 5:07 into the third.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (27) looks to get the puck away from
Rangers wing Chris Kreider Thursday night.

However, Stastny got the Blues back even at 2-2, when Schwartz stripped a puck in the neutral zone, sprung Stastny loose who fed Tarasenko, and Stastly tipped Tarasenko's shot past Lundqvist at 10:42.

The Blues, who were 0-for-5 on the power play including 28 seconds of 5-on-3 in the second period, had a chance with the man advantage late and had some of their best scoring chances ... right before the fluky Nash game-winner.

"When we started playing with tempo, we were very effective," Hitchcock said. "That's what needs to take place. 

"The details in power play ... we were half on the page and half not on the page on the power play. There's a lot of things we can take from this on improvement. There are a lot of things we did really well, but they're a good hockey club. But we need to get that in our mindset that the score or the way we play shouldn't dictate that. It should be matter-of-fact for us. It's going to be a little bit of a tug-of-war for us to get there."


  1. Worst puck bounce in the history of puck bounces...sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.