Jake Muzzin and the Kings came back from a 2-goal deficit Tuesday night to beat the St. Louis Blues 6-4 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The game featured 10 goals, two goalie changes, and 54 penalty minutes, forty of those coming in the 1st period alone. Jonathan Quick got the win in relief of Jonathan Bernier and the Kings out-shot St.Louis 29-14.
Coming off a bad loss in Dallas on Sunday, the Blues looked like a different team in the first 2 periods Tuesday night, coming out fighting, literally, in the first 20 minutes. Barret Jackman, Roman Polak, and Ryan Reaves all dropped the gloves for the Blues and both teams’ penalty boxes were standing-room-only at one point. When the dust had settled on the frame, the Blues led 2-1 on deflection goals from Alex Pietrangelo and Vladimir Sobotka.
Despite being out-shot 6-3, St. Louis dominated much of the play early in the 2nd period. David Perron put the Blues up 3-1 just over a minute in, chasing Bernier, and Chris Stewart punctuated the aggressive play by St. Louis with a beautiful, “wicked, saucy backhander,” as called by play-by-play man John Kelly, over Quick’s shoulder at 6:31. It would be the last spark of life the Blues would show.
St. Louis got into some penalty trouble in the second half of the game, and while they were able to kill off the LA man-advantage opportunities, the Kings scored FIVE unanswered goals, including four in the 3rd period, to mount a big come-back victory. Jaroslav Halak gave up 5 goals, including 2 by Muzzin, and was lifted at 6:09 of the 3rd period after relinquishing the lead. Brian Elliot would allow a final tally, by Anze Kopitar, to close out the scoring at 14:51.
Shots favored LA 14-10 through two periods Tuesday night, yet the Blues managed a 4-2 lead. Unfortunately, St. Louis essentially quit at that point. The Kings out-shot them 15-4 in the 3rd period, and the Blues fell back into their losing ways- turning the puck over near their blueline, getting caught flat-footed in their own zone, and failing for most of the last 30 minutes of the game to establish any sort of backcheck, particularly by their forwards.
The Blues are 1 for their last 19 power-play attempts. They were badly out-shot by the Kings and have averaged a meager 20 shots on goal over their last two games. The St. Louis Captain, David Backes, had all the right things to say, again, after the loss to the Kings (via StLBlues.com)
“We took our foot off the gas, and you can’t do that against good teams,” Backes said. “They took it to us. We made too many mistakes and they put it in the back of our net. We got off our game plan and tried to be too cute in our end when they were putting pressure on us, rather than just getting the puck out and working it down the ice the way we did in the first period.
“And the answer was four unanswered goals in the third and another bad feeling in this locker room.”
The question I have, as a fan, as someone who has believed the Blues have what it takes to win from the start and through all of the ups and downs of this shortened season is, WHY? This line from Backes isn’t new. The team consistently makes the same sort of mistakes and loses the games in which they do and yet they continue to make them. It defies logic.
Whatever the problem, whatever the solution, the Blues will have today to consider it and then must gear up to play in Phoenix Thursday night. After last night’s NHL action, St. Louis sits tied with Dallas for the 8th spot in the West, with only 2 points separating 8th from 4th. The Blues are almost at the halfway mark and need to make a decision, quickly, as to which direction they want to go.
GO BLUES! Long Live the Note!