After a thrilling 4-3 overtime win against the Lightning on Saturday, the Pittsburgh Penguins dropped the second game of their back-to-back home stand against the St. Louis Blues in a game that was eerily reminiscent of their loss to the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Finals last season.
St. Louis clogged up traffic in front of their own net and prevented the Penguins from getting to their game, cutting down on passing lanes and playing a tight, defensive style of hockey that the Penguins failed to solve in four straight losses to the Bruins last postseason.
And while goaltender Marc Andre-Fleury kept the Penguins in it all game (as he has so many times this season), Pittsburgh just couldn’t seem to buy a goal.
It’s a problem that’s becoming more and more common with the Penguins this season, as well the past couple of seasons for that matter. More and more often, teams are figuring out the key to beating the Pens, and more and more, Pittsburgh has failed to adjust their style of play to try to get around their opponents.
Blues captain David Backes scored the lone goal in the contest by going hard to the net and deflecting a shot in from the point. Imagine that. It’s a novel concept.
Like I said before, you can’t blame this game on Fleury, or the defense in front of him for that matter. Both matched the Blues shift for shift and helped make it a close contest for the Pens.
No, for the second time in five games, Pittsburgh’s offense failed to produce even a single goal. It’s not that they looked bad, far from it, actually. They had several excellent chances to slip one past goaltender Brian Elliot, including a 90 second 5-3 power play at the start of the second period, however each time they failed to capitalize.
And full credit to the Blues, they put on a defensive and shot blocking exhibition for a full 60 minutes, a huge reason they have one of the best records in the entire NHL this season.
Pittsburgh has a three game home stand coming up against the Coyotes, Kings, and Blackhawks, so the competition isn’t going to get much easier from here on out.
Let’s hope Dan Bylsma and his team can figure out a way to get around tight games like today’s or another rely playoff exit could be on the horizon.