– Photo by Jeff Curry/NHLI via Getty Images
Poor play in the defensive zone and poor goaltending sealed the Blues’s 4-1 defeat to the Vancouver Canucks.
With the loss, the Blues collected just four points in its past six games (1-3-2). St. Louis remains second in the Central Division with a record of 46-23-7 and 99 points. Chicago is three points behind the Blues and Nashville is three points ahead of St. Louis in the standings.
If the season were to end today, St. Louis would face off against division-rival Chicago in the first round of the playoffs.
Despite a lack of scoring, Brian Elliott was not much better in net as he allowed three goals on 21 shots before Vancouver added an empty netter in the final minutes of the game.
After dropping four of its past five, the Blues did not get off to a great start in the second period after a scoreless first 20 minutes of play. Vancouver’s Christopher Tanev collected the puck at his own blue line and sent a pass up the ice to Shawn Matthias breaking into the attacking zone as the Blues got caught in a line change. Matthias went in all alone and deked once to the left and right before putting it up and over Elliott for his 18th goal of the season giving the Canucks a 1-0 lead with 16:06 remaining in the period.
St. Louis rebounded in the middle of the period. T.J. Oshie and Olli Jokinen went into the corner on the fore-check as Jokinen came out with the puck behind Vancouver’s net. Jokinen sent an indirect pass off the side boards to Zbynek Michalek who sent a slap shot into the net to tie the game at one with under eight minutes remaining in the period.
For Michalek, the goal was his third of the season, first as a member of the Blues and first since Jan. 31. Jokinen also notched an assist on the play for first point with St. Louis and first since Feb. 21.
Vancouver responded just under a minute later, however. Kevin Bieksa took a shot that went wide and bounced off the end boards right to Nick Bonino. Elliott came way out of the crease to try to stop Bieksa’s shot leaving an empty net for Bonino to make it 2-1 after two periods of play.
The third period did not fare much better for St. Louis as Vancouver’s leading goal scorer Radim Vrbata netted his 31st goal of the season with assists of Tanev and Christopher Higgins. The goal put St. Louis in a two-goal hole with just under 13 minutes remaining in the period.
Despite 24 shots on goal and pulling their net-minder, the Blues failed to close the gap as Alexandre Burrows added an empty netter to make it 4-1 Canucks.
St. Louis looks to get back on track at home against the Calgary Flames Thursday, Apr. 2 at 7 p.m. CT.