Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Allen pulled, Blues go into break off discouraging 7-4 loss to Panthers

Goalie removed after allowing five goals on 23 shots; St. Louis 0-2-1 
past three games despite goal, assist each from Stastny and Tarasenko

ST. LOUIS -- A two-goal came quickly and briskly for the Blues. 

The first eight minutes couldn't have gone any better against the struggling Florida Panthers, who had lost the first three games of a four-game trip, and it was a chance to get goalie Jake Allen up and running. 

Fifty-two minutes of good, hard, well-played hockey separated the Blues from a 4-1-1 stretch heading into a bye week than a discouraging loss.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues goalie Jake Allen (34) makes a save Tuesday during a 7-4 loss to the
Florida Panthers. Allen was pulled after allowing five goals on 23 shots.


Not even scoring more than three goals in a game for the first time since Jaden Schwartz went down (Dec. 9) could save them. 

The end result wasn't quite what the Blues were hoping for, nor expected. Allen was pulled after allowing five goals on 23 shots, and the Panthers put a good old-fashioned seven burger on the home side in the Blues' discouraging 7-4 loss on Tuesday before 18,783 frustrated and at times, angry fans at Scottrade Center.

The Blues (26-17-3) now head into a five-day break knowing they've lost three in a row allowing 17 goals, and Allen has been in goal for two of them.

Allen, who was starting for the second time since Dec. 29, is 1-8-0 in his past nine starts and has a 3.39 goals-against average and .896 save percentage. He allowed five goals in a second straight start and 28 in those nine.

"Jake's going through a hard time right now," Blues coach Mike Yeo said. "Let's be honest. I think he had a good start to the game and next thing you know, we're doing some things that put him in a bad position."

Allen's teammates were not ready to lay any blame on him.

"I think he's still playing good," Blues defenseman Joel Edmundson said. "Lots of those goals were the five guys in front of him. They were mistakes, we were turning the puck over. They had clear shots. It's not just him, it's the whole group."

The Blues were simply sloppy with the puck and poor in defensive coverage, and it was the five-man group. Allen was for the second game in a row hung out to dry on some shoddy play from his teammates, but when coach Mike Yeo pulled Allen after allowing Vincent Trocheck's goal to make it 5-3 at 16:37 of the second period, it was evident a shaken goalie needed removal.

"Obviously the second period, we know that that's not the level that Jake can play at," Yeo said. "Going into every game expecting Jake to play what we saw last year. That's who he is, but we also have to help him out, too. That was disturbing tonight."

Trocheck scored two goals with one assist, Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov each had a goal and two assists, and James Reimer made 26 saves for Florida (18-18-6), which won once on a four-game road trip.

It's the first time in seven games the Panthers have scored more than three goals.

Paul Stastny and Vladimir Tarasenko each had a goal and an assist for St. Louis (26-17-3), which will be off for six days.

The Panthers scored three times in 4:14 of the second period to take a 5-3 lead. Radim Vrbata tied it 3-3 at 12:23, Huberdeau put Florida up 4-3 at 15:55, and Trocheck made it 5-3 at 16:37. Allen was pulled and replaced by Carter Hutton, who made 11 saves on 12 shots.

"There's nothing to do about Jake, him and 'Huttsy' have been really good for us the whole year," said Blues forward Ivan Barbashev, who had two assists giving him five points in the past three games. "It's just as a team, we're playing pretty bad right now and we have to fix it as soon as possible."

The Blues took a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Stastny at 48 seconds and Colton Parayko at 8:05. The Panthers tied the game 2-2 on goals by Aaron Ekblad at 9:14 and Barkov at 16:57.

"Yeah, I think we felt we had it in the bag I guess and then we took our foot off the pedal," Edmundson said. "When you do that in this league, teams are good enough that they're gonna shove right back at you."
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Vladimir Tarasenko (91) scores against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday. It
wasn't enough as the Blues lost 7-4.

Florida shoved. The Blues didn't have an answer.

So why does a team take its foot off the gas?

"That's a good question. I wish I knew," Edmundson said. "I think we think it's gonna be easy. But to win in this league, it's a challenge. So we have to come out every night, we have to be 100 percent and outwork the other team. And tonight we got outworked."

They did get another lead when Tarasenko gave the Blues a 3-2 advantage at 4:17 of the second period, but it was short-lived.

"I thought they played harder than us tonight, plain and simple," Blues forward Alexander Steen said. "They worked harder for 60 minutes, they deserved (to win)."

Colton Sceviour scored on a shorthanded breakaway at 13:02 of the third period to make it 6-3, and Tage Thompson scored at 17:19 to make it 6-4. Trocheck's empty-net goal with 2:04 remaining made it 7-4.

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