The Philadelphia Flyers’ Matt Read (No 24) scores past St. Louis Blues goaltender Brian Elliott in the second period at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. PICTURE: Chris Lee/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS
By Jeremy P. Rutherford/St. Louis Post-Dispatch
In the past week, the key phrase around the Blues’ locker room has been “building good minutes.”
They admit they’re not going to erase a month’s worth of sub-par play in one night, but stringing together some productive periods would be a start.
On the heels of Tuesday’s win, the Blues added more good minutes in the first period against Philadelphia Thursday night at Scottrade Center.
But what the Blues had been building fell apart in the second period, as the Flyers scored three unanswered goals in a 4-2 win in front of a disappointed crowd of 14,028.
It’s now been exactly one month since the Blues last won back-to-back games, and it won’t be any easier to turn things around with Central Division-leading Dallas headed to town Saturday.
The Blues said Thursday morning that they would have extra incentive later that night with goaltender Brian Elliott in net, looking for his first win since Oct. 18. In his last five appearances, Elliott had a record of 0-2-1, but in that stretch had a 1.60 goals-against average and a .942 save-percentage.
Elliott made 26 saves, but the Blues couldn’t find more than two goals from Robby Fabbri and David Backes despite putting 37 shots on Philadelphia goalie Michal Neuvirth, who played outstanding.
The Blues had the look of a determined club in the first period. Though the game remained scoreless after 20 minutes, the team registered 10 shots, 11 hits and had no giveaways. Paul Stastny’s bid for his third goal of the season was denied early in the period, otherwise the Blues would have taken a lead into the first intermission.
The night continued to look up when Robby Fabbri did give the Blues the lead just 1:35 into the second period, scoring his fifth goal of the season. Dmitrij Jaskin had the puck behind the Philadelphia net and flipped it in front to Robby Fabbri, who wasted no time punching it past goalie Michal Neuvirth.
Against Philadelphia, at Scottrade Center, one goal has been enough in the teams’ recent history. The Blues had blanked the Flyers three times in their last four trips to St. Louis.
Philadelphia made up for that with three goals before the end of the period.
Michael Raffl started it off with his third goal of the season. Brayden Schenn passed the puck to the front of the net, where Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester couldn’t find the positioning or the muscle to prevent Raffl from putting a deflection past Elliott for a 1-1 tie.
The goal was Philadelphia’s first in 171 minutes in this building. The visitors would only need 3:21 for the next one.
Matt Read handed the Flyers their first lead of the game, 2-1, with 13:24 remaining in the second period.
Following a turnover by Blues defenseman Petteri Lindbohm, Michael Del Zotto put a blistering shot on net. Lindbohm blocked that, but the rebound was left laying in the slot. Read corralled it and whiffed on his first attempt but then wrapped the puck around the outstretched of Elliott.
The Blues were slipping quickly. Raffl and Read had goals and captain Claude Giroux was looking for his. The captain came into the game with a goal against every club in the NHL except the Blues.
Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby was also looking first his first-career goal against the Blues in the teams’ recent meeting November 25. Crosby came up with two in the Penguins’ 4-3 overtime win.
Giroux got his on Thursday, and it was a dandy. Taking a pass from Schenn, Giroux entered the offensive zone with a head of steam, which wasn’t good news for the nearest defender, Magnus Paajarvi. He blew past Paajarvi and then deked Elliott before beating him with a backhanded shot.
Like that, a 1-0 lead had disintegrated, with three Philadelphia goals against the Blues’ top line. Paajarvi and Vladimir Tarasenko were each minus-3 and Paul Stastny was a minus-2 as the Flyers took a 3-1 lead into the second intermission. The Blues made a strong push in the third period and pulled to within 3-2 on Backes’ eighth goal of the season. It came on the power play with 12:23 left in regulation. But that’s all the Blues had, as they dropped to 1-3-1 in their last five home games.
Patrick Kane extended his Chicago Blackhawks’ record point-scoring streak to 24 games with a third-period goal in a 5-1 loss to Nashville on Thursday. Kane’s 18th goal of the NHL season wasn’t enough to overcome the Predators’ strong first period offensively and goalie Pekka Rinne’s superb play in the final period.
Rinne made 35 saves in winning for just the second time since November 17. He turned away at least six quality Blackhawks scoring chances in the second period, denying centre Andrew Shaw four times and robbing Kane twice.
However, the Chicago right winger poked a rebound under a prone Rinne at 5:43 of the third period to continue a streak that started October 17 in a 4-1 win over Columbus. Kane pumped his fist in the air after scoring as the Blackhawks fans in the building cheered loudly.
Kane’s streak is at 24 and counting but he still has a long ways to go to catch Wayne Gretzky’s all-time record 51-game points streak. American Kane is living on the edge with this streak. He had back-to-back games where he needed points on home ice in empty-net situations to keep his streak going—one against the Winnipeg Jets with a hand-pass to Artemi Panarin who scored and one he scored himself earlier this week against the same Predators.
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