Alexander Steen opened Thursday’s overtime shootout by performing an exceedingly rare feat among Blues players: He scored.
Seven rounds later, after Dmitrij Jaskin slammed the puck directly into Petr Mrazek’s right pad, Steen remained the only Blue to have found pay dirt in the shootout. Henrik Zetterberg beat Jake Allen on the subsequent attempt, breaking the tie and giving the Detroit Red Wings the two points the Blues ought to have earned themselves.
After Tuesday’s half-hearted debacle against Calgary, the Blues assembled a superior effort Thursday in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Red Wings, save for one fairly relevant component: They couldn’t score.
“We can’t lose sight of the difference between tonight and Tuesday’s game,” Kevin Shattenkirk said. “There’s a lot of things we can take into Saturday’s game and be happy about.
“When it comes down to it, we just need to bury our chances. And we had a lot of great ones tonight. I think when we go back and look at it and realize that we were creating those and how we were creating those, that’s going to be what we need to focus on.”
For the most part, the Blues cleaned up their sloppiness from Tuesday, but the scoring problems persisted, as Kevin Shattenkirk provided the lone non-shootout goal with a second-period post-ringer through traffic. Save for a six-goal outburst Saturday in Calgary, the Blues have managed just one goal in each of the other previous four games.
It’s not that the Blues aren’t getting chances. They outshot Detroit 32-27, including a 14-4 advantage in the first period that yielded no production. As Paul Stastny explained, there isn’t always a good reason for a cold spell—but that doesn’t make it acceptable.
“It’s not like we’re not trying to score,” Stastny said. “Sometimes you have a wide open net and you find a way to miss it. You gotta create your own bounces sometimes when it’s tough to score. We don’t use any excuses around here. We know what we’re capable of and we know what we can do.”
Ken Hitchcock said he would have to “look at everything” in an attempt to rectify the Blues scoring woes. Hitchcock is notorious for tinkering with line combinations, and hinted at such a resolution after Thursday’s game.
"We've got to look at combinations," Hitchcock said. "What’s working, what’s not working, what we need to get more from. You can’t just keep living on scoring chances. You gotta finish at the end of the day, and I think we’ve gotta look at every aspect right now.
“You’re gonna have to score more in the league, you’re going to have to finish your chances. I don’t think we are creating the second and third opportunities that we normally do. That’s why I say we’ve gotta look at combinations. There’s a lot of scoring chances, but they seem to be one and done for me right now.”
Vexed by the Blues’ offensive drought, Hitchcock was satisfied nonetheless with their ability to carve out a point while struggling offensively.
“We’re scoring one goal and getting points. I mean, that’s incredible,” Hitchcock said. "That’s a hell of a feather in these guys’ caps."
Though impressive for now, snagging points with minimal offense won't be sustainable in a stacked Central division. The Blues transition from physicality and grit to a game of speed and skating has been a major talking point of late. St. Louis can quell the discussion and the doubts by finding the back of the net with a little more frequency. Sometimes, that's easier said than done.
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