Elliott can’t save Blues’ slumping offense in Philadelphia

The Blues can’t keep relying on their top goaltender to rescue them at crucial times, especially on the road.

Another woeful offensive performance finally caught up with them in Philadelphia, where the Flyers rallied to win 3-1 behind three goals in the final period.

Philadelphia would have earned the lead or at least tied the game much earlier if not for another solid performance in net by Brian Elliott, as well as one embarrassing miss in the first period, when R.J. Umberger got the puck all alone on the right side before Elliott had a chance to turn, but somehow failed to put a puck into a wide-open net.

Nearly every time Elliott saw the puck, he made the play to finish with 28 saves on 30 shots.

He looked on track to earn a fourth straight win on the road heading into the third period, despite the fact St. Louis has scored just five goals combined during the streak. Elliott came up with 40 saves at Florida and 30 at Winnipeg in a pair of 2-1 shootout wins, then beat Edmonton 2-1 in regulation.

A great save off of Ryan White’s point-blank chance off a two-on-one highlighted Elliott’s impressive first two periods, but he never saw the game-tying goal shot from near the blue line by Michael Del Zotto. Less than two minutes later, no one pressured Wayne Simmonds right in front of the net as he redirected a sliding puck past Elliott.

"We might have sat back a little too much on our heels there," forward Jaden Schwartz told FOX Sports Midwest analyst Darren Pang on the Blues Live postgame show. "We needed to keep pushing, try to get that second goal to give us a little more of a lead, but they gave us a push and we didn’t respond the right way."

St. Louis got only eight shots on goal with no great chances in the final period, a stark contrast to Sunday’s three-goal rally to earn a point at Vancouver. The Blues had their top line on the ice for both of the Flyers’ goals before a late empty-netter, continuing a troublesome trend.

Even though T.J. Oshie tallied three assists in the 6-5 shootout loss to the Canucks, including one on a power play to David Backes, he still finished with a minus 1 rating. Alexander Steen doesn’t have a point in his last six games, his longest such streak this season.

Elliott can be a difference-maker in net, and he’s the biggest reason the Blues haven’t lost more than seven of their last 13 games. But he has to be getting tired of the lack of offense, considering St. Louis has scored two or fewer goals in Elliott’s last seven starts.

That leaves him with little room for error.


The Blues are hoping one of their most dangerous scorers finally found his shot again.

Schwartz broke a season-long slump of seven straight games without a goal in the first period to put St. Louis ahead 1-0 for the 11th time in its last 12 road games. The 22-year-old forward does a lot more than just score for the Blues, but his struggles shooting the puck have been a big part of the team’s recent offensive issues.

Only Vladimir Tarasenko has more goals for St. Louis this season, even though Schwartz missed seven games in December with a broken foot. When the two are clicking together on the Blues’ second line and hitting their spots with their deadly wrist shots, they’re tough to stop.

Naturally, Tarasenko started the key play in Philadelphia when he intercepted an ill-advised pass near the blue line. A strong move into the zone gave him an opening to find Schwartz, who sent an unstoppable shot off the far post and in on goaltender Steve Mason’s stick side.

Despite the recent slump, Schwartz leads all Blues other than Dmitrij Jaskin (who has played only 37 games) with a 15.2 shot percentage. But Schwartz ranks just fourth among St. Louis forwards with 138 shots on goal, and he has surpassed four shots only once in the last 14 games.

Considering how few goals the Blues are scoring lately, they probably wouldn’t mind if Schwartz took a few more chances.

You can follow Luke Thompson on Twitter at @FS_LukeT or email him at lukegthompson87@gmail.com.