Blues look to improve penalty kill against Rangers
ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Blues’ penalty kill had been showing signs of leakage recently. The dam broke on Saturday.
The Blues went 0-for-4 on the penalty kill in a 6-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins at Enterprise Center.
It was the sixth time in seven games that the Blues have allowed a goal on a penalty kill unit that was once fourth in the league and killed off 23 straight at one point this season.
“They don’t get those chances, you do the math, its 2-1, a much closer game,” Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo told NHL.com. “Tough to give those guys that many opportunities. Players like that not only get chances, but they feel better about the game with the puck on their sticks and they get that on the power play.”
Blues interim coach Craig Berube acknowledged the trend.
“It slipped about the last five games I would say,” Berube told NHL.com. “There are just mistakes that are made that can’t happen. We have to do a better job of blocking shots in some scenarios. They’re just mistakes we’ve got to clean up.”
The Blues (15-17-4) entered the game seeking their first three-game winning streak of the season. They are now 0-4-0 after winning two straight and have been outscored 21-6 in those games.
“We weren’t bad 5-on-5,” Pietrangelo told NHL.com. “Penalty kill wasn’t good enough tonight. There were some good things 5-on-5, but you still lose the game. We took our penalties 5-on-5. We’ve got to be a little smarter … but things happen. Sometimes, you take weird penalties. You flip the puck over the glass. You’ve got to find a way to pick those guys up and kill those penalties.”
The Blues will try to right the penalty kill as they host the New York Rangers (16-14-7) on Monday night, in the third game of a five-game home stand. It is the first meeting between the two teams after the Blues won both games last season.
The Rangers are coming off a 4-3 win at Nashville on Saturday night. The victory snapped a three-game skid, but the team has earned points in eight of its last 10 games.
“You could feel it,” Rangers coach David Quinn told NHL.com. “There was excitement, guys understood what they needed to do. There was a different feel tonight for sure.”
Before the game, the Rangers veterans held a team meeting stressing the importance about playing strong on the road trip heading into the All-Star Break.
“The guys had a meeting today and talked about playing winning hockey and understanding situational hockey, and I thought we did a heck of a job of it tonight,” Quinn told NHL.com. “I give our leadership group a lot of credit. … I give those guys a lot of credit because they took the bull by the horns, and we played winning hockey when it mattered.”