The Carolina Hurricanes’ five-game point streak ended tonight as they fell to the St. Louis Blues, 4-2, in St. Louis.
The first period was a scoreless stanza with a combined eight minutes of penalties between the two teams.
Both goals could be blamed on defensive lapses by the centers. Manny Malhotra was late to pick up Polak, while Eric Staal was out of position to get in Backes’ way when he shot from the side of the crease on a flukey goal.
But at 15:05 of the second period, the Canes committed a too many men on the ice penalty, which ended up working out great for the team as Eric Staal and Nathan Gerbe both scored short handed.
Staal’s goal came on a breakaway after Malhotra sprung him, as both players made up for their defensive lapses earlier. Gerbe’s goal came when goalie Brian Elliot came out to play a puck in the corner, mishandled, and Riley Nash stole it and centered to Gerbe, who shot left, while Elliot slid right.
But from there, it was all Blues. They controlled most of the game, and especially the third period.
Alexander Steen scored the game-winner on a breakaway after the Canes defensemen made an awful line change when Polak still had the puck at his blue line.
Polak made a two-line pass to Steen, who sniped Justin Peters to the low left.
T.J. Oshie scored on an empty-net with 43 seconds left to ice the game.
Peters had another strong game, although he should have made the stop on Backes’ goal. Besides that, none of the goals were his fault and made some stops to keep the Hurricanes in the game.
Perhaps even worse than the loss was that Alex Semin got injured in the second period when he came around the Blues net with his head down. Alex Pietrangelo stepped into him, with a clean hit, that forced a trainer to come onto the ice and help the Russian off.
Semin would return for a shift later in the second, but during intermission, the Hurricanes announced he would not return with an upper-body injury. Hopefully, it was just a precautionary move and not a dreaded concussion.
Ultimately, the Canes seemed gas after two games in 24 hours along with the plane flight from Raleigh to St. Louis last night. A loss isn’t too surprising, but the team defense needed to be stronger tonight.