Originally written May 01, 2012 on Fox Sports Midwest:
ST. LOUIS It was a scene St. Louis Blues fans hadn't experienced in quite some time. Cheering sarcastically because the first period was almost over. Booing even louder when the visiting Los Angeles Kings scored yet another goal just before the end of the period. But when it was all said and done and the painful remaining seconds had finally run off the clock, the Blues found themselves in a position nobody had expected 48 hours earlier. The Central Division Champions, winners of a franchise record 30 games at home, skated off the ice at a silent and mostly empty Scottrade Center wondering if they'd be back to play another game in front of their home fans. The final damage was a 5-2 Los Angeles win, putting the Blues in an 0-2 hole in the Western Conference semifinals as the series moves west for games three and four later this week. "This was a huge game for us," said rookie defenseman Ian Cole, who saw his first action of the playoffs due to an injury to Alex Pietrangelo. "We needed to win this, and with the effort we put forward, it was definitely embarrassing. "When it's the most important game of the season and we come out and they score on the first shift and then they score again and again, we need to be mature enough to bounce back and it's embarrassing that we didn't." The Blues fell behind just 31 seconds into the game. And it didn't get any better. It got worse. Way worse. The Kings added three more goals in the first period, including two in the final 90 seconds, to take a commanding lead into the intermission. When the Blues stormed out of the gates and scored just 18 seconds into the second period, fans thought maybe, just maybe, the home team was about to have a magical night. But those thoughts and any momentum the Blues had gained were quickly erased when the Kings added a fifth goal less than a minute later to make it 5-1. The Blues added a goal in the third period but the damage was too much to overcome. It was a night nobody expected to see, a feeling nobody figured to have: the second-seeded Blues on the ropes, heading to Los Angeles without a win in the series and unknowing whether or not the series would even be back in St. Louis. "Very surprising," said veteran Barret Jackman, the longest tenured Blue. "That's not the way that our team is built, that's not the way we've competed all year. We'll rectify things and we'll be a lot better on Thursday. "It's a best of seven and we still have an opportunity to win. You have to win four games. We'll go in there and give them everything we have and prove ourselves, that we're capable of playing in the series." The last time the Blues allowed four goals in a period in the playoffs was May 5, 1996, when they allowed five goals in the first period to the Detroit Red Wings. The Blues allowed five goals just twice previously since coach Ken Hitchcock took over on Nov. 6. Goalie Brian Elliott, who led the NHL in save percentage and goals against average in the regular season, didn't allow five goals in a game all season. Ironically one of the Blues worst losses of the season came in Los Angeles on Oct. 18, when they suffered a 5-0 loss to the Kings under old coach Davis Payne. The Blues hadn't allowed four goals in a period all year before Monday. Summing it up: Monday's first period was the worst they've had in some time. And if they want their season to continue past games three and four in Los Angeles, things have to change. And quickly. "We've got some looking in the mirror to do," Backes said. "We're better. X's and O's and film, we've done that to death. It's about intestinal fortitude and coming together as a group and going to the hard areas and showing that you have some cojones. They showed it the first two games for the fill 60 minutes and that's why we have an 0-2 hole to dig ourselves out of." If we play like we did tonight, with not enough guys going, it's ging to be win wherever we are, if were playing on the moon we won't win. We've got plenty of things to look at like I said. We just need better play from better guys and more willingness to sacrifice for the good of the team." And history is not on their side. The Blues are 1-16 all-time in series which they fall behind 0-2, including an 0-2 mark when losing the first two games of the series at home. But the Blues plan on trying to change that. They out-shot the Kings 24-5 after the first period and out-scored them 2-1. While it didn't add up to a win, the Blues hope to carry their momentum into Game 3, where they know a much better effort will be needed from the opening faceoff. Their season's not done yet. But it's nearing life-support. And they hope to have that urgency come Thursday night in Game 3. "We owe more to our fans," said forward T.J. Oshie. "We shouldn't have to get down four goals to get guys to get going. There's a competitive level that you need for the playoffs and tonight we didn't have it. "It was embarrassing, the work ethic we had as a team. We had a good second half and built some momentum there in the third period but that's not the start we need. We just have to carry that momentum over. It's a tough loss but we'll regroup. It's a must win next game."
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