Blues blanked again, this time by Anaheim

2014-03-01T01:10:00Z 2014-03-14T20:13:45Z Blues blanked again, this time by AnaheimBy Jeremy Rutherford 314-444-7135

ANAHEIM, Calif. The Blues believe they solidified their goaltending for a long playoff run Friday with the acquisition of Ryan Miller. Perhaps Miller could give the Blues’ offense a jolt, too.

After playing 57 games this season without being shut out, the Blues have been blanked in back-to-back outings, falling to Anaheim by an identical final score of 1-0 Friday night at Honda Center.

The Blues had 75 total attempts at the net — 18 on goal, 27 blocked and 30 missed.

“We missed the net,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “Between missing the net and blocked shots, we’ve had over 100 in the last two games. That’s the issue. Too many blocked shots, too many shots missed the net. That’s been the story of the two games.”

The Blues dropped to 0-2 on their three-game road trip, which wraps up Sunday in Phoenix.

The offense hasn’t scored a goal since before the Olympic break, the last one coming from Jaden Schwartz in a 3-2 shootout win over Winnipeg on Feb. 8. While Miller is known for patrolling the net, he did have two assists in a recent win for Buffalo over the Carolina Hurricanes.

The trade, while speculated for months, did send shockwaves through the Blues’ locker room, but not through their sticks as they attempted to knock off Anaheim for the first time this season. The Ducks won both previous games this season in St. Louis.

The venue switched to Southern California for the final meeting of the season between the teams, a day in which Anaheim received a rare heavy downpour.

In the Ducks’ pair of wins in December and January, they showered the Blues with pucks, breaking open those games with leads of 4-0 and 3-0.

On Friday, Anaheim scored early, indicating another rout could be on.

After a turnover in the offensive zone, the Ducks turned the other way and Saku Koivu set up Andrew Cogliano on a breakaway.

Brian Elliott, who was making a surprise late start after the trade of Jaroslav Halak, tracked Cogliano during his deke, but the former Edmonton Oiler slipped a backhanded shot past the netminder for a 1-0 lead just 3:39 into the game.

The goal was eerily similar to the one scored by Vancouver’s Yannick Hansen on Wednesday, which was also the difference in the game.

“We’ve given up two goals that were kind of on streaky plays, where they spring a guy and get behind us and put it away,” Blues captain David Backes said. “But it’s not like we’ve been terrible in the (defensive) zone, or the other teams have been that much better than us, battling for pucks.

“I think it comes down to those simple plays. You want to bite your lip when they happen because you think of how preventable they are. If that’s a difference in four points for us the last two games, it really stinks.”

The Blues had an opportunity, going on the power play 12 minutes into the game when Corey Perry engaged in a fight with Backes and earned an extra two minutes for roughing. But seven seconds later, Patrik Berglund negated the man-advantage with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

The power play failed the Blues again Friday, after entering the game in an 0-for-23 funk. They were 0 for three against Anaheim, and the club has now gone a season-high five games without a power-play goal. The longest drought before the current one was three games in December.

The Blues hit two posts Friday, by Schwartz in the first period and Ryan Reaves in the second period.

The near misses kept Anaheim in front 1-0 heading into the third period. At that point, the Blues had played three games against the Ducks this season and did not once have a goal in the first 40 minutes.

This time, the last 20 minutes, as they were Wednesday in Vancouver, weren’t any better.

The Blues had averaged 29.6 shots game, ranking No. 19 in the NHL. But they finished with 20 shots against the Canucks, including just three in the third period, and only 18 against the Ducks, just four in the final frame.

Were the last two games hard-fought battles in which the Blues came up short, or are there issues?

“I think you’re always worried about what’s going on,” Hitchcock said. “When you’re playing well and not scoring, I think you worry a lot more. I don’t think you write it off to just playing well and you’ll get breaks. I think there’s execution issues that have to get fixed.”

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