ST. LOUIS — The struggling St. Louis Blues had some good moments on Thursday night against the visiting Philadelphia Flyers, just not enough of them.
After taking the lead early in the second period, the Blues surrendered three unanswered goals and lost to the Flyers 4-2 at Scottrade Center.
“We stopped checking,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “I’m sure the players said the same thing. Stopped checking. Stopped checking, opened up gaps, had some soft plays in the scoring areas against us and that gave them the three goals.”
The Blues (16-9-4, 36 points) have now lost four of their first five games in December. They are 2-3-2 over their last seven games and 5-6-3 over their last 14 after starting the season 11-3-1.
“This is a league, the more you check, the more you have the puck,” Hitchcock said. “The more you stay on the hunt, the more you play on your toes, the more you close gaps, the more you have the puck. When you're inconsistent in that level, you open it up. This has been an ongoing theme for a little while and we've got to get it solved.
“We were really good in the first and we really dialed it up in the third, but you're coming from behind, you're mounting comebacks all the time. To me, checking is a mindset, checking is details of work. It's a collective effort. It has to be there if you expect to win on a consistent basis. That's what the teams that win are doing right now on a consistent basis. That allows you to make plays, it allows you to have the puck, it allows you to build momentum in the game.”
The Flyers, led by Claude Giroux’s goal and two assists, were able to seize the momentum in the second period and hold on to it in the third for Philadelphia’s fourth straight road win.
Michael Raffl and Matt Read also scored in the second and Ryan White added an empty-net goal the Flyers (12-11-6) snapped a two-game skid. Michal Neuvirth made 35 saves.
“What I see tonight is we had good goaltending, we had a good four-line effort, all six defensemen did a good job,” Philadelphia coach Dave Hakstol said. “… It’s a tough place to win and it’s a good team win for us.”
“I think we started pretty good and then we get the goal in the second period,” Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester said. “Then we give up the (tying) one; that was my fault on the guy in front of the net and then another one and another one and all of the sudden, it's 3-1 and you're in a big hole. The third period, I thought we played really well. Had a lot of chances and just ran out of time. But it's that lapse in the second period that kills you.”
Fabbri opened the scoring 1:35 into the second period, scoring his fifth goal after Dmitrij Jaskin found open him in the slot with a centering pass from behind the net.
The Flyers responded with the tying goal just 2:20 later. Raffl tipped in a centering pass from Brayden Schenn for his third of the season, with Giroux also picking up an assist on the goal.
Read scored his fifth at 6:39 when he collected a rebound of a long shot from Michael Del Zotto and slipped it around Elliott while falling to the ice.
Then Giroux scored, assisted by Schenn and Nick Schultz, with 1:54 remaining in the second when he deked Magnus Paajarvi and Elliott.
“That’s pretty amazing to watch him put it under the D-man’s stick and was able to make the deke at full speed,” Schenn said. “That's a nice goal and I'm sure you'll see that one on the highlight reel many times.”
Backes scored on the Blues' first power play of the game, 7:37 into the third period, after Wayne Simmonds went off for hooking. Backes redirected a shot from Alexander Steen and then slipped the rebound past Neuvirth for his eighth of the season.
White added an empty-netter, assisted by Giroux, with 1.7 seconds left.
“Obviously the second period we had some turnovers that didn't help us out,” Elliott said. “In this league, the subtle differences can mean the difference in the game. We did a good job in the third period. If we play like that from the beginning, I think we dominate teams. We've got to take that out of it and move onto the next one because we've got a couple back-to-back that are going to be tough games.”