GLENDALE, Ariz. • Once again, the Blues failed to follow a win with another win, posting another lackluster effort that kept them playing a man down for much of the game in a 6-1 loss to Arizona at Gila River Arena.
The Blues haven’t won consecutive games since Nov. 6 and 9 and any boost they got from their solid and emotional win over Colorado on Friday seemed to have vanished. The Blues are 0-4 in the second half of back-to-back games, and they have allowed 21 goals in those games. On the bright side, the Blues don’t play back-to-back games again until early January.
The Blues started the game without Alex Pietrangelo and Alexander Steen, who were both injured in the Colorado game, and lost forward Robby Fabbri in the closing seconds of the first period, when he checked Arizona’s Josh Archibald in the corner and appeared to hurt his right shoulder or arm. He fell to the ice, got up, and skated off in obvious pain, holding his right arm, took off his helmet and went straight to the dressing room. He did not return.
One thing that put the Blues in a hole was penalties, and plenty of them. In the first two periods, as the Coyotes opened up a four-goal lead, they were on the power play for 11:32 of the 40 minutes as the Blues took one penalty after the other. The Blues, meanwhile, had one power play in the first two periods.
Chad Johnson, getting the start in goal, faced 38 shots in the first two periods alone. It was the second straight game in which Johnson had allowed six goals, though he made some excellent saves that kept the score from being even worse. Arizona finished with 44 shots on goal; the Blues had 26.
Vladimir Tarasenko got a game misconduct for shouting at the officials after a play in the third period and missed the final 10:44 of the game.
Arizona took a 1-0 lead on their third power play in a seven-minute span in the first period. After a hold by Oskar Sundqvist and a hook by Robert Bortuzzo, the third was a too-many-men penalty, the third by the Blues in five games. Jakob Chychrun scored on a shot with Johnson screened on the play by Colton Parayko. St. Louisan Clayton Keller assisted on the goal.
Just under two minutes after the goal, Sammy Blais got a double minor for high sticking Arizona’s Michael Grabner, though half of the four minutes were wiped out when Sundqvist was tripped after the puck came clear after Johnson and the Blues were protecting the puck in a goal-mouth scramble.
Keller got his first career goal against the Blues 58 seconds into the second period, taking a pass from Nick Schmaltz, brother of Blues defenseman Jordan Schmaltz, and firing it past Johnson to make it 2-0. Twenty-eight seconds later, Robert Thomas redirected a shot from Jay Bouwmeester into the goal to make it 2-1, but Christian Fischer of Arizona scored 1:33 after that with bodies all over the crease to make it 3-1.
It went downhill from there. Nick Cousins scored 8:21 into the period to make it 4-1 and then Richard Panik skated onto a rebound while no one on the Blues went to pick him up and scored to make it 5-1. Alex Goligoski scored in the third period to make it 6-1.
Steen, Petro are injury scratches against Coyotes
Veterans Alexander Steen and Alex Pietrangelo are out of the lineup tonight against Arizona following injuries suffered in Friday’s 3-2 overtime victory over Colorado.
Steen, in just his second game back after being sidelined for six games with what was believed to be a concussion, took a shot to the head from Colorado’s Erik Johnson early in the second period.
Pietrangelo suffered what looked like a hand/wrist injury after taking a shot along the boards midway through the third period from Gabriel Landeskog.
Interim head coach Craig Berube offered no further details during a pregame media briefing early Saturday evening at Gila River Arena.
“We’ll evaluate them again tomorrow,” Berube said. “Really never had a chance to get that done today. We were busy. We’ll get a better chance to evaluate that tomorrow.”
Flying to the Phoenix area Friday night after the Colorado game, the Blues didn’t arrive at their hotel in Glendale until 3 a.m. Central time.
With Pietrangelo out, Jordan Schmaltz returns to the lineup after being a healthy scratch against Colorado.
Schmaltz returns to the third pairing, with Jay Bouwmeester. Colton Parayko takes Pietrangelo’s spot on the team’s first D-pairing, with Joel Edmundson. Vince Dunn and Robert Bortuzzo form the second defensive pairing.
Up front, rookie Robert Thomas moves off the bench and into the lineup, playing left wing on the No. 1 line with Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko. Thomas was a healthy scratch against Colorado after going minus-3 and committing two costly turnovers against the Red Wings.
“I think it’s just more of a reset for (Thomas),” Berube said. “He had a tough game in Detroit, he knew that. So he’s got a good opportunity tonight to do something good. He’s playing with two really good players. We’ll see how he does.”
The rest of the Blues’ lines remain unchanged from Friday in Colorado:
With the team captain (Pietrangelo) and one of the team’s two alternate captains (Steen) sidelined, Berube is going with three alternate captains against Arizona. Besides season-long alternate captain Vladimir Tarasenko, wearing “A’s” against Arizona will be O’Reilly and Parayko.
Steen and Pietrangelo both have roles on the Blues’ power play, but without them, Berube is going with two defensemen on the first unit with Parayko joining Dunn. Thomas will play on the second power play unit.
Despite the strong showing by Jake Allen against Colorado, Berube is going with backup Chad Johnson in goal. Johnson is coming off his worst outing of the season, allowing six goals Nov. 24 against Winnipeg before being pulled late in the second period. The plan all along was to play Johnson against the Coyotes and after a grueling night against the Avalanche for Allen, Berube decided to stick to the plan.
“It was a tough game (for Allen),” Berube said. “He had to work extremely hard in that game, so it’s a fatigue factor.”
After missing a season-high 21 shots in Wednesday’s 4-3 loss in Detroit, the Blues ran a special drill the next day in practice. Forwards had to take a pass and shoot quickly on goal. If they missed the goal entirely or hit a post or crossbar, they had to drop to the ice immediately and do 10 pushups.
The target practice paid of Friday in Colorado, because the Blues missed only seven shots in their 3-2 overtime victory over the Avalanche. It was tied for the team’s fourth-lowest missed shot total of the season.
Oskar Sundqvist’s penalty shot in the second quarter Friday against Colorado was the Blues’ first since March 10, 2017 against Anaheim. Like Sundqvist against the Avalanche, Ryan Reaves was unsuccessful that day against the Ducks.
• Dunn’s fight with Colorado’s Ian Cole was his first in the NHL. Yes, Cole hammered Dunn. Then again, Dunn does his best work in hallways as anyone knows who’s seen the video of his February 25, 2017 fight with Iowa’s Kurtis Gabriel as a member of the AHL’s Chicago Wolves.
• O’Reilly’s 24 minutes 16 seconds of ice time against the Avalanche was more than any Blues defenseman logged. It’s the first time all season a Blues forward has led the team’s skaters in ice time.