Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Flustered Blues Fall to Kings; Goalie Allen Pulled Again after Giving Up 3 Goals on 15 Shots

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Flustered Blues Fall to Kings; Goalie Allen Pulled Again after Giving Up 3 Goals on 15 Shots

Article excerpt

LOS ANGELES *It should be shake-up time soon, if the Blues aren't there already.

The season is only at the midway point, two months away from the NHL trading deadline, but a team that had been treading water the past month looked Thursday night in Los Angeles like a club in disarray.

The Blues were blitzed 5-1 by the Kings at Staples Center, falling behind 4-0 for the second consecutive game before getting on the board. By then it was way too late for an offense that had just two shots in the second period, went nearly 20 minutes without one, and finished with 22.

There are concerns across the board, but none more alarming than in net, where starting goaltender Jake Allen was pulled for the third time in his last five starts after giving up three goals on just 15 shots. Backup Carter Hutton relieved him, but gave up a goal on the second shot he saw, and the onslaught continued.

LA's Jake Muzzin and Tanner Pearson each finished with two goals, as the Blues dropped the first game of a three-game road trip. The club will be off Friday before playing a back-to-back set in San Jose and Anaheim over the weekend. By then, it could be playing to hold onto third place in the Central Division, as the lead slipped to two points (47-45) over fourth-place Nashville.

"We've been beating the deadhorse on we need better goaltending, but it seems like right now we're at a stage where every mistake goes in our net," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "When we make mistakes, it's in the back of our net and we're facing off at center ice."

The Blues were eager to get on the road following a season-long six-game homestand that ended 3-3. But after saying they were ready to hit the reset button on a road record that stood at 5-10-1 before Thursday, they were ready to hit it again after the first period.

The Blues stuck with Allen Thursday, but that's going to be more difficult to do moving forward after another demoralizing appearance. After allowing three goals on 11 shots in the first period of Tuesday's loss to Boston, Allen gave up two goals on 12 shots in the opening frame against LA.

The Blues' Jori Lehtera didn't help the team's chances for a strong start when he took an offensive-zone, high-sticking penalty that drew blood on the Kings' Derek Forbort, leading to a four-minute double-minor.

On LA's first shot of the man-advantage, Muzzin put a 38-foot slap shot on net that beat Allen far-side for a 1-0 lead just 3:18 into the game.

"It's not easy to start on the penalty kill like that, but it's a penalty kill, we've got to find a way to step up and kill that and that would've generated some momentum," captain Alex Pietrangelo said. "Right now it's the starts we've got to figure out, where before it was the end, now it's the starts."

The Blues had what turned out to be their only chance to stay in the game midway through the first period when LA was whistled for back-to-back penalties. …

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