Make that three straight losses for the St. Louis Blues, who have only four wins in their last 10 games.
The Blues lost to the Winnipeg Jets by a final score of 5-3 on Saturday. Late attempts at a comeback from four goals down were fleeting and unsuccessful. Once in competition for the Central Division, St. Louis has fallen off the pace in these times of struggle and is now part of the pack fighting for a wild card spot in the West.
In the last three games, the Blues have given up 18 goals. Eighteen goals.
These are difficult times for the Blues, who turned to Pheonix Copley, who had never started an NHL game before today, in goal versus the Jets.
Despite giving up five goals on 29 shots, Hitchcock praised the play of Copley. And he likes the amount of scoring chances his team is producing. But their own mistakes keep piling up, and they keep piling into the St. Louis net at what is now an alarming rate.
The Blues trailed 2-1 entering the third period, but gave up a Bryan Little power play goal just over two minutes later and they fell further behind. It was a critical moment in the game for St. Louis. The floodgates opened from there for the Jets.
“It’s tough. Quite frankly, we’re allowing too many goals against, obviously. Too many easy scoring chances. We’re getting scored on killing penalties now. If we clean up our own end, both five-on-five and five-on-four, it will help us a lot.”
Yes. Goaltending is right now an issue, and it seems easiest to point to that as a reason for their struggles. But it’s clear it’s not the only problem.
Desjardins: Horvat is ‘fine’ after taking a slap shot to the head
Late in the first period, Bo Horvat was skating behind the Florida net when he was struck in the back of the head by a Nikita Tryamkin slap shot. Horvat immediately hit the ice. He was down for a brief period, but did skate off under his own power.
The good news: He returned to the game after missing a brief time.
“I would assume he was forced out by the spotter,” said coach Willie Desjardins following Vancouver’s win on Friday. “Whenever you see something like that, you’ll probably check it out, especially if he was bleeding.”
“They took a look at him and he’s fine.”
More good news for the Canucks.
In his third NHL season, Horvat is emerging as a critical component of this team. He’s 21 years old, is tied with Henrik for the team lead in points, with 30 in 47 games, and is on his way to next weekend’s NHL All-Star event. Further to that, the Canucks are in a transition, with a younger core expected to eventually take over from the lasting members of the current core, most notably Daniel and Henrik Sedin, who are both 36 years old.
The Canucks are also in a fight for a playoff spot, and injury to one of their top centers, which Horvat is, would certainly make the hunt for the post-season that much more difficult.
Sitting one point out of the second wild card spot in the West, the Canucks begin a three-game road trip by facing the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.
Video: Julien won’t discuss job security with Bruins
Despite carrying the play, especially through the first two periods, the Bruins were unable to score and were shut out once again, losing the game on a goal from Marian Hossa with 1:26 remaining in regulation. For the Bruins, that’s a heartbreaker.
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) The toughest thing Montreal Canadiens goalie Al Montoya had to do against the New Jersey Devils was stay awake.
The Canadiens limited the Devils to a season-low 17 shots, and Shea Weber and Max Pacioretty each scored a power-play goal during a major penalty early in the third period of Montreal’s 3-1 victory Friday night.
“I’d take this any night,” Montoya said after the Canadiens snapped a two-game skid. “Your team is playing fantastic in front of you. Halfway through the game it’s 1-1 and all I’m really focused on is making that next save. These guys did a phenomenal job and I just wanted to make that next save, and the power play was terrific. The guys were mainly terrific all night.”
The difference in this one was the power play. The Canadiens were 3 for 7 with the extra man and they converted twice with Devils defenseman Karl Stollery in the box for a boarding major.
The call was iffy. Stollery hit Canadiens defenseman Nathan Beaulieu in the corner in the Devils end, but the question was whether it was a major or minor penalty.
“It happened quick,” Stollery said. “The guy is coming in and I am going in to finish the play and he turns up. I probably would like to let up a little bit more if it happened again. It’s one of those things that happens quick.”
Devils coach John Hynes screamed at the officials.
“All I got was they felt it was a dangerous hit,” Hynes said. “At that point they are not going to explain it too much. They were defensive. They made the call. It is what it is. At that point we have to try to find a way to kill it better than we did.”
The first two minutes of the major were played 4-on-4, but the Canadiens capitalized after that.
Weber scored his 11th of the season on a drive from the blue line at 3:01 that was set up by Radulov. Pacioretty got his 21st at 4:23 with a shot that deflected off the skate of Devils forward Adam Henrique.
“It was huge,” Weber said. “Obviously, special teams mean so much coming down the stretch and heading into playoffs, so trying to get some chemistry going and help the team win games, it’s obviously a big thing.”
Rookie defenseman Steven Santini gave the Devils an early 1-0 lead, but the Canadiens dominated after that, firing 26 shots at Keith Kinkaid.
Montoya had nothing to do for long stretches. New Jersey was held without a shot for more than 12 minutes after Santini scored, and it needed 13 minutes to get one in the second period.
Santini put New Jersey ahead when he flipped a shot from just inside the blue line that floated into the top corner of the net.
Galchenyuk tied the game 74 seconds later with a shot from the left circle with Devils forward Miles Wood in the penalty box for slashing. The tally came 28 seconds after the penalty and on Montreal’s first shot with the man advantage.