ST. LOUIS Playing in his first career playoff game, Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk played 33:06, had a team-high 11 shots on goal, blocked four shots and assisted on the game-tying goal early in the third period.
But following a tough 3-2 double overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks at Scottrade Center Thursday night in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals, the 23-year-old was left to talk about a failed clearing attempt that led to San Jose's winning goal.
"I had my stick on it and it's just a play that has to be made," Shattenkirk said. "It has to be a harder play. I have to get it past him and get the puck out of the zone there.
"That's what these games boil down to, games like that, and that's kind of my first reality check, I guess, and first real taste of the playoffs and how one mistake can really come back to bite you."
A stunned capacity crowd at Scottrade Center went home in silence Thursday after the Blues, who set a franchise record for home wins with a 30-6-5 mark in the regular season, fell behind 1-0 in the best of seven series after dominating the first overtime but failing to score.
Looking to win their first playoff game since 2004, the Blues erased a 1-0 deficit with two goals early in the third period. But San Jose tied the game at 2 with 5:16 left in the period and the game went into overtime.
The Blues dominated the fourth period, out-shooting the Sharks 14-8. But they weren't able to solve Sharks goalie Antti Niemi, who stopped 40 of 42 shots in the game and all 14 shots in the first overtime.
So the game went to a second overtime, where a couple of missed clearing chances including the one by Shattenkirk led to Martin Havlat's game-winning goal from the high slot just 3:34 into it.
"I thought we did a lot of good things, especially in that first overtime," said forward Alex Steen. "I thought we had a lot of good zone time. We played the game the right way and turned pucks back on them quickly. We got more zone time. We certainly had chances and we didn't bury them. They got their chance in the second OT and they scored.
"We zoned into the game a little bit more and calmed down and started playing our game a lot more and I thought started taking over more and more. It's unfortunate, but its game one. There's a lot of hockey left to be played."
The Blues have lost seven consecutive playoff games dating back to 2004. They haven't won a playoff series since 2002, something they hoped to change this year by earning the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference.
Patrik Berglund scored both goals for St. Louis in the third period, the second of which gave the Blues a 2-1 lead and sent the home crowd into a frenzy with 13:32 left in the third period.
But with several Blues players getting their first taste of playoff hockey, they suffered an unwanted lesson about minimizing mistakes.
"There were a lot of errors on the goal," said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock. "It's unfortunate. There were a lot of errors on that goal. We had it cleared three or four times and didn't win a race to the board either. It's disappointing. We played a very good hockey game, but that's the playoffs."
The Blues played well for much of the night, out-shooting San Jose 42-34 for the game and seemingly dominated the later stages. But the double-overtime loss leaves them with a surprising 1-0 series deficit, something they hope to even up come Saturday.
After reaching the conference finals in each of the past two seasons, San Jose hopes their experience edge can continue to top any edge the Blues have in talent level for the rest of the series.
But after learning a valuable lesson Thursday night, the Blues hope to use their minimal experience to even up the series in Game 2 Saturday night.
"It's something we can definitely learn from and look at video and say this is how we need to be playing," Shattenkirk said. "Especially for me, as a young player, this is my only experience I have so to have it under my belt and to know a little bit of what it takes and what needs to happen out there, it's something that helps out in the long run.
"Obviously you don't want to lose two at home so we'll come out hungry on Saturday. It's a must win game."