Blues suffer rare loss at home to Bruins
Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 10:36 PM
Louie Korac - NHL.com CorrespondentST. LOUIS -- Tim Thomas
knows what the Boston Bruins
accomplished Wednesday night has been a rarity in the NHL this season.
"They have very few home losses. They're a good team, period," Thomas said of the St. Louis Blues
after backstopping 30 shots in the Bruins' 4-2 win at Scottrade Center -- only St. Louis' fourth regulation home loss of the season.
"You can see by where they're at in the standings that they're a good team," Thomas said.
This just doesn't happen to the Blues (36-17-7). Much like their Central Division counterpart Detroit Red Wings, home wins are as good as gold.
However, it did happen ... for only the first time in 22 home games the Blues were not able to pick up at least a point on home ice.
scored twice and Milan Lucic
and Chris Kelly
each had a goal and an assist in a offensive-filled first period as the Bruins (36-20-2) snapped a season-high two game road losing streak.
Boston came in after having dropped seven of its last 11 games. The Bruins were also blanked in four of their previous nine.
"it was big for us," Marchand said after scoring his 20th and 21st goals of the season. "We had a couple of losses in a row and we wanted to make sure we followed up with a good game. If we didn't win, we wanted to get back to playing our type of hockey. We had a great game tonight. it was a big win for our team."
The Blues dropped to (26-4-4) at home in the process. They were 18-0-3 in the previous 21 and last lost in regulation on Dec. 3, a 5-2 defeat to the Chicago Blackhawks. It's the Blues' first back-to-back regulation losses since dropping two at Calgary and Edmonton Oct. 28-30.
And it was uncharacteristic turnovers that cost the Blues.
"I thought we waded into the game tentative and then I thought we really started to get going once we scored our first goal," said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, whose team fell behind 2-0 and 3-2 in the first period and lost to an Eastern Conference foe for the first time this season (12-1-2). "I thought we played really well the whole second period.
"The mistakes we made, we made big errors. We turned the puck over in the neutral zone and made a couple big errors there and they took advantage of it."
It was indeed a wild first period between teams in the top five in team goaltending statistics that saw a total of five goals -- three of them by Boston.
The Bruins grabbed a quick 2-0 lead on goals by Marchand and Lucic. Marchand stole a puck by Kevin Shattenkirk
at the Blues' blue line and snapped a quick shot from the slot over Brian Elliott
's glove hand 2:29 into the game. Lucic's redirection of Joe Corvo
's shot 6:19 into the game made it 2-0. David Krejci
's crushing shoulder check of Blues defenseman Kris Russell
behind the net created the opportunity from the right point.
The Blues battled back and got two of their own when Chris Stewart
got his first in seven and second in 18 games, beating Tim Thomas
from a sharp angle 58 seconds after Lucic's goal to make it 2-1. Ryan Reaves
got his second goal in three games after tipping home Crombeen's shot with traffic in front of Thomas to tie it 12:15 into the period. Crombeen picked up two-thirds of a Gordie Howe hat trick, needing only a goal.
"The way it started out, I didn't know what it was going to be like," said Thomas, who stopped the final 27 shots he faced. "I didn't know if we'd have to win one of those 5-4 games or something like that. That's the way it seemed to be going with screens and funny bounces, good opportunities both teams were getting. As a goalie, I'm happy with the way that it turned out."
But the uncharacteristic poor defensive zone play led to Kelly's go-ahead goal with 39.4 seconds left in the period. Another failed attempt to clear a puck saw Lucic feed Kelly in front for a quick snap shot past Elliott to make it 3-2.
"I thought the third goal allowed them to breathe again," Hitchcock said. "We couldn't get the goal that we needed to get in the second period when we had all the play in their zone. We had all kinds of chances, all kinds of play, but we couldn't get the third goal to tie it up, which would have made it a little bit different game ... and then they got to breathe after the intermission. They came out with a good push at the start of the third."
It was Elliott who made a crucial right skate stop on Kelly just 40 seconds into the game from in tight that kept another Boston goal off the board.
"The first period, a couple mistakes and a bad bounce just leads to opportunities," said Elliott, whose goals-against average jumped up to 1.65 and save percentage fell to .937. "I have to come up with a couple saves. We need to generate some offense and come back from a period like that. I think we did to a point. We just couldn't get anything going by them.
"We knew that was coming. We knew they were going to come hard off the bat. We wanted to counter that. To a point, we did, but I think we just need to be better all around ... myself included for sure."
The Bruins, despite getting outshot 13-4 in the second, had the closest chance when Johnny Boychuk
's shot from the point was double-deflected off two Blues sticks. Amazingly, the puck caromed off both the post and cross bar, but stayed out as evidenced by a video review with 12:26 left in the period.
Boston is unbeatable when leading after two periods. With their 3-2 lead, the Bruins went into lockdown and shutdown mode and made it a perfect 24-for-24 this season with second-period leads (24-0-0).
They extended their lead in the third when Marchand scored on a breakaway, going to his backhand and beating Elliott five-hole 9:14 into the third for a 4-2 lead on only their 16th shot of the game.
"We weren't really sure what to expect coming in," Marchand said. "We knew they play very hard and we knew they play very well at home.
"We thought it would a little tighter checking in the first period. We had a few goals, especially that third one late was big for our team. Definitely a little more wide open than we thought it was going to be."
After allowing two goals on his first five shots, Thomas settled in and stopped the final 27 St. Louis shots.
The Bruins have not lost in regulation at St. Louis since dropping a 4-0 decision on Dec. 18, 1999. They are now 3-0-4 in their last seven in the Blues' building.
"We'll take it," Thomas said. "We should be very happy with our effort."