The St. Louis Blues went into December looking to take advantage of a home-heavy schedule that included 11 games at Scottrade Center.
But after losing to the visiting Minnesota Wild 3-1 on Thursday night, the Blues finished December with a less-than-optimal 7-4 record on home ice.
“We just can’t keep living on the fine line we’re living on right now, scoring one and two goals and still getting points,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock told reporters. “Today was a game where we had a great start, probably from five minutes left in the first period, the balance of the game was probably even. We were better the first 15 minutes, but if you’re playing even or a little bit better, you've got to get points. But it’s hard living with one goal.”
The Blues (23-13-4, 50 points) are still second in the Western Conference’s Central Division and are tied for the third-most points in the NHL, but they’ve shown cracks in their game and have been unable to take advantage of some opportunities to put teams away.
On Thursday, St. Louis was without leading scorer Vladimir Tarasenko because of an illness but still played well enough for much of the night to win the game.
The Wild (20-16-6, 46 points) tied it at the 16:12 mark on a goal by Nino Niederreiter.
Erik Haula put the Wild ahead with 8:32 remaining in the third period with his third goal of the season and first in 17 games. Haula knocked a shot off of Blues goalie Jake Allen from a tough angle after a pass from Niederreiter from behind the net.
“Not a good goal by me there,” Allen told reporters. “I lost it behind the net and didn’t know where it was. He banked it off me.”
Thomas Vanek added an empty-net goal with 1:37 left.
The Blues are back in action on Saturday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs (14-15-7, 35 points) at Air Canada Centre.