Going into their second, and final matchup with the Florida Panthers, the St. Louis Blues were riding some momentum. They had won two in a row, including a shootout win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Panthers have been on a hot streak of late though, so they were always going to be tough to beat. St. Louis did get off to a good start.
While Brayden Schenn has done some of the little things, scoring has been hard to come by of late. He scored his first goal in almost 20 games though, cashing in on a Jake Neighbours rebound.
Although the Blues were fine in the first period, they would not escape with the lead. After a faceoff win in their own zone, the Panthers rushed down and forced what was close to an odd-man rush.
Joel Hofer made a good stop on a shot from in close, but the Blues couldn't get the rebound. The failure of the backcheck to hustle into their own zone left a man loose to get the back door goal and a 1-1 score.
The second period got off to a rough start when the Panthers capitalized on a weak penalty call against Jordan Kyrou late in the first. The Panthers got the puck to the goal line for Matthew Tkachuk, who then fed it out front for the slot goal after the Blues were slow to react to either Tkachuk or Sam Reinhart.
Things got compounded when the Blues were awarded a four-minute power play. Of course, as is their way, they failed to score on that.
St. Louis was steady, with nine shots in the first and second. It didn't feel like they were forcing Anthony Stolarz into many tough saves though.
Things were set up well for a good third period for the Blues, as they had a power play with fresh ice. They accomplished nothing and it went off the rails.
Tkachuk would score two, unanswered goals. The first one was a fantastic snap shot from the right circle and the next was a deflection in front of the net, pushing the score to 4-1 with 16 minutes still left.
The Blues never really threatened late in the game. Even when they had a six-on-five advantage, they could barely enter the zone and get any offense.
Eventually, Tkachuk would scoop one over the defense and into the empty net for his hat trick. That sealed off a 5-1 win.
Con: Accomplishing nothing with matching offense
Statistically, the Blues were right with the Panthers for most of the game. They got outshot by two in the first, but it was mostly even.
The Blues had nine shots compared to eight for Florida in the second. The third went back and forth, as you would expect.
However, when you're down by three goals, you have clearly not made the most of your chances. Your opponent clearly has.
Florida made the most of their power play, scoring a goal on one and challenging on the other. The Blues failed to get anything.
Not to focus solely on the power play, but St. Louis had a four-minute power play and didn't score. You're given four chances and don't score, you're not going to win.
Meanwhile, power play or not, the Panthers took advantage of the Blues few miscues. They pushed down the ice and outworked the Blues back check.
They got the puck low and made the Blues look silly on their power play. Florida got pucks to danger areas and converted. St. Louis did not.
Pro: Second line
Although the Blues only had one goal, the second line was the one to score it. They were working hard all night.
It was good to see Schenn finally get one in the back of the net. He had a hot start and then went ice cold, so maybe this will spark some offense from the captain.
Neighbours continues to be a workhorse. He does exactly what you want a young hockey player to do - go to the front of the net, drive the net, work for the puck and battle - oh, and he can score too. He didn't in this one, but it was a solid effort.
Speaking of effort, it was a good one for Brandon Saad too. He has a tendency to disappear at times, but he was skating hard and getting his nose in the thick of things. He earned the Blues their four-minute power play. It wasn't his fault they couldn't score.
When you get beat 5-1, you would think there would be more cons, but it was just a lackluster game from the Blues perspective.
You finish the game with 30 shots, but despite what the announcers claimed, it did not feel like Stolarz did a ton. The Blues had chances, for sure, just as you do every game.
I'm not trying to take anything away from a goalie who made 29 saves and only saw one, unstoppable shot go by him. It just felt like all he made were positioning saves that, if beaten, he would have been critisized for.
Even the Blues good looks didn't seem threatening. Colton Parayko had two, unguarded bombs from the right and he topped out at 93 mph. I'm sorry, but this is a guy that should be hitting close to 100 with regularity and he can't even fully unleash with nobody in front to worry about hurting.
There's not much to do about the second Tkachuk goal. The backcheck was horrible on the Stenlund goal. The penalty kill was standing stone-footed on the power play goal.
The Blues weren't horrible defensively, but as mentioned, they were made to pay for just about every error.
Hofer couldn't do much about any of the goals scored. The offense was all but non-existent.
They weren't without effort, but their play just isn't consistent enough to think they can come back from larger deficits. Once it became 3-1, the end was almost academic.
Once the Blues failed to score with a four-minute power play, you just felt it was not their night. I hate to always mention the power play so much, but for crying out loud - they could have four or five more wins this season if they could just score ONE power play goal when they are given four or more opportunties.
Next up is the New York Rangers. They're top of the Metropolitan division, so it won't be any easier the next time the Blues lace up the skates.