St. Louis, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - Justin Abdelkader's two goals and Petr
Mrazek's 23-save shutout sent the spiraling St. Louis Blues to their sixth
straight regulation loss, a 3-0 setback that concluded the regular season for
The defeat allowed Colorado to clinch the Central Division and the No. 2 seed
for the upcoming Western Conference playoffs, where the Blues will take on
defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago in the opening round.
Prior to its skid, the longest by the Blues since a seven-gamer from Dec. 26,
2009-Jan. 7, 2010, St. Louis owned a seven-point advantage on the Avalanche
for first place. The team has mustered an anemic five goals while being shut
out three times during the stretch.
"You look at the big picture," an optimistic Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock
said afterward. "The big picture is we set a record for [wins]. We had a
brutal stretch here at the end. Everyone went through a brutal stretch. The
teams that had the Olympians, at some period of time, they hit the wall.
Chicago's stretch was right after the break, ours happened now."
Detroit (39-28-15), already locked into a quarterfinal matchup with the
Presidents' Trophy-winning Boston Bruins in the East, also received a goal
from Riley Sheahan and two assists by Pavel Datsyuk in support of Mrazek's
second career shutout.
"It's always good to end the season on a good note heading into the playoffs,
and I think we're doing a lot of good things of late and looking forward to
the Boston series in the first round," said Abdelkader. "It's going to be a
lot of fun."
Ryan Miller finished with just 18 saves for St. Louis (52-23-7), which
nonetheless set a new franchise high for wins in one season.
Playing without three of their top five point producers and a few other key
regulars, the Blues generated few scoring chances and were outplayed by their
former division rival for much of the game.
"It's a mixture of things, but we've got to get more [chances] inside," Blues
forward Alexander Steen said of the team's scoring struggles. "A lot of the
stuff's being generated on the outside. The power play hasn't really been
clicking the last few games here."
The Red Wings had a power-play tally by Tomas Tatar midway through the first
period waved off when Joakim Andersson was called for interfering Miller, but
had a goal count moments later to gain the upper hand.
Datsyuk forced a turnover in the neutral zone before sending a pass to Brian
Lashoff, whose long shot bounced off Abdelkader's body and went in as the
Detroit forward screened Miller with 6:31 left in the opening frame.
Mrazek made the lead stand up with a diving right pad save on Maxim Lapierre
with around eight minutes to go in the second period, and Sheahan made it a
2-0 game when his wrist shot from the left circle went through Miller's pads
3:41 prior to the final intermission.
The Blues put up 10 shots in the third period, but Mrazek turned them all
aside to complete the whitewash. Abdelkader put the finishing touches on the
victory with a pretty redirection of a Datsyuk feed while skating towards the
St. Louis net with 7:17 left to play.
The Blues played without forwards David Backes (lower body), T.J. Oshie (upper
body), Patrik Berglund (shoulder) and Vladimir Sobotka (undisclosed), while
defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Barret Jackman were rested ... Forward Johan
Franzen and defensemen Niklas Kronwall and Danny DeKeyser were healthy
scratches for Detroit, with blueliner Ryan Sproul making his NHL debut in the
game ... Sheahan has now scored in three straight games ... The Red Wings
ended the regualar season 21-15-5 on the road, while St. Louis went 28-9-4 on