CALGARY, ALBERTA • The only break going the Blues' way is that today is the start of the NHL All-Star break.
The club continued its free-fall Wednesday night, falling 4-1 to the Calgary Flames to extend their losing stretch to four games.
Calgary scored two power-play goals, one of which was batted into the net by Blues defenseman Erik Johnson, and after holding a 3-1 lead late in regulation, Jarome Iginla added an empty-net goal in the closing minute.
The Blues outshot Calgary 22-10 in the final two periods, but the Blues' only goal came from Philip McRae, his first in the NHL, to help the club avoid its first shutout of the season.
Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, playing his 500th game in the league, made saves on Alex Steen with 8:25 left in the third period and Alex Pietrangelo with five minutes to play to keep it a two-goal game.
"Our guys are working," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "This is one of those games again where we have to be a little bit sharper in some areas, and that's up to the coaches to make sure we get those parts refined. But the one thing I trust about this group is the work they're going to put in. These guys are working, and this is just simply the direction that we have to go in order to get done what we want to accomplish."
Despite a record of 2-7-2 in their last 11 games heading into Wednesday, the Blues had a chance to pull within three points of a playoff spot in the Western Conference standings. But with their loss to the Flames, they remained five points back with 33 games to play.
The good news is the Blues won't drop in the standings over the next five days. They'll rest for the NHL's All-Star break, returning to the ice Tuesday against Colorado at Scottrade Center.
With two wins in their last 12 games, the Blues have left a lot to be desired with their performance. Their execution Wednesday offered more of the same, as they were pass-happy, had a power play that netted nothing and their penalty kill allowed two goals.
One of Calgary's power-play goals could be chalked up to a fluke and not a penalty-kill breakdown, but when Johnson buried a puck into his own net, it set the tone for a struggling night.
David Moss put a shot on net that was blocked by Blues goaltender Ty Conklin. When Johnson went to swat the rebound away, it went down the middle of the pins for a perfect strike. The Flames had a 1-0 lead just 5 minutes, 36 seconds into the game.
"We're a team in this," Payne said. "We had lots of clock to get that one back."
Calgary had a 5-on-3 power play for 11 seconds at the end of the first period. The Blues made it to the locker room unscathed, but with Roman Polak in the penalty box to start the second period, Moss added his second goal of the game 1:29 into the period. He deflected in a point shot by Anton Babchuk for his 12th goal of the season and his fourth two-goal game in his last 12.
The power-play goal was the 10th scored against the Blues in their opponents' last 29 power-play opportunities, covering the last eight games. The Blues are 2-5-1 in that stretch, which is a microcosm of what the penalty-kill unit has meant to the team's success this season.
Before Wednesday's game, the Blues' penalty kill was 91.7-percent successful in the team's 22 wins this season. The group had erased just 71.3 percent of the opponent's power plays in the team's 26 losses.
Trailing 2-0, the Blues had a chance to trim the lead in half with 3:10 left in the second period, but after a steal behind the net by Brad Winchester, Kiprusoff turned away Winchester's shot in front.
"He was good," Winchester said. "He's a guy that comes out and challenges you. He's good on his angles and he played well for them tonight."
Then with 1:22 remaining in the second period, Calgary took a Blues' turnover into a breakaway goal by Adam Pardy. His first goal since November 2009 gave the Flames a 3-0 lead.
McRae erased the goose-egg with 12:11 left in regulation, but the Blues didn't have enough of that.
"We were able to get some pucks to the net," Winchester said. "We just have to keep going here. We have to use this break in a positive way. Come back refreshed and get ready to turn it in the other direction. There's a lot of hockey left."