ST. LOUIS — Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has stressed the importance of keeping his team focused and finishing out this final homestand before the Olympic break with as many points as possible.
On Tuesday night, for the second straight game, the Blues coughed up a two-goal lead, fell behind, scored a late goal to tie it and then went to a shootout. But unlike Saturday, St. Louis couldn’t finish this one as the visiting Ottawa Senators pulled out a 5-4 win in the shootout.
The Blues (37-12-6) picked up their 80th point in their 55th game, but that lone point is a tough pill to swallow after taking a 3-1 lead into the third period.
Here is a quick look at three takeaways from the loss:
The Blues put a season-high 50 shots on goal against the Senators but were only able to score the four goals. That was in part because they had seven power-play opportunities and could not convert any.
St. Louis entered the game second in the NHL in power-play percentage with a 23.8 percent conversion rate.
The Blues couldn’t score on a 5-on-3 power play late in the second period, when they were ahead 1-0, and soon after the Senators got a goal from Erik Karlsson to tie the game.
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Leopold’s quick thinking prevented a goal midway through the second period when he was able to clear a puck off the goal line that had caromed up and over goalie Jaroslav Halak.
The veteran defender scored his first goal of the season at the 11:08 mark in the third period when he banked in a shot off Ottawa goalie Robin Lehner. That tally tied the score at 4-4 after the Sens had scored three straight goals.
Leopold’s two clutch plays may give him an edge in the battle with Ian Cole for that last spot among the top six defensemen. Leopold was plus-1 in 14:23 of ice time on Tuesday.
Halak was coming off his best month of the season but his first start in February was a rough one. He’s now lost back-to-back starts for the first time this season.
The goalie couldn’t help the Blues hold that two-goal lead early in the third period as he allowed three goals on four shots in a span of just 2:35 in the final period.
Halak was living on the edge in the shootout as two Senators shots clanked off the post before Kyle Turris beat the goalie for the game-winner.