Flames fall short against Blues

Blues sniper Maxim Lapierre celebrates with teammate Ryan Reaves after scoring a goal in last...

Blues sniper Maxim Lapierre celebrates with teammate Ryan Reaves after scoring a goal in last night's tilt with the Calgary Flames.

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:22 AM ET

ST. LOUIS — They showed up late in the Show-Me State.

Against a fast, physical and talented team that’s being billed as a Stanley Cup contender, that’s a dangerous game.

The Calgary Flames made things interesting with a couple of third-period markers, but they couldn’t fully recover from an awful opening frame in Thursday’s 3-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center.

The Blues, thanks to a powerplay tally by Vladimir Tarasenko and a top-shelf deflection by Maxim Lapierre, had two goals after 20 minutes.

The Flames had two shots.

“Two different teams,” sighed Flames head coach Bob Hartley, shaking his head. “The first period, we were tentative. They carried the play to us. We started on our heels, got a penalty and they scored a powerplay goal. It seems that we made it tough on ourselves. When you give a goal so early in the game, then they generated momentum. But we never quit. I felt we got back in the game. Maybe too little, too late, but we showed lots of character.

“It’s too bad,” he added. “If we could backtrack and replay that first 20 minutes, it might be a different outcome.”

If you backtrack to just hours before the Flames jetted off on this four-game trip, Hartley told reporters in Calgary the blueprint for road wins was “a couple powerplay goals combined with key saves.”

In his third consecutive start for the Flames since being summoned from the farm club, Reto Berra once again made some key saves. Alex Steen, who now has 14 goals in as many games this fall, had the only other tally for the Blues, with Calgary’s new netminder finishing with 24 stops.

And how about those powerplay goals?

Zero. Zilch.

Nothing to show for six powerplay chances against the Blues. Nothing to show for 10 tries on this road-trip.

Nothing to show, in fact, for their past 28 attempts at the man-advantage, almost a full hour of wasted opportunities.

“If I had that answer, we would have scored two tonight,” said Flames left-winger Michael Cammalleri. “We’re working at it ... Generally, you win that special-teams battle and you have a pretty good chance of putting yourselves in a good position to win the game, so we’re well aware of it.”

Tim Jackman and Cammalleri each scored at even-strength in Thursday’s third period to give Blues fans a reason to fret.

The spectators at Scottrade Center were really nervous when Vladimir Sobotka was whistled for a minor penalty for a faceoff violation with 2:51 remaining, but Calgary’s only shot on goal on that powerplay was from 88 feet away.

With their net empty and nothing doing, Blues goalie Brian Elliott even tried for a shorthanded score.

“I’d like to buy one,” Hartley said. “The guys are working hard, but right now, it seems we can’t turn the red light on on the powerplay. Tonight, especially late in the game, it would have been the perfect timing.

“Hopefully, we get some powerplay goals soon, because they could make the difference in a game.”

It doesn’t get any easier for the Flames (6-8-2), who have lost four of their past five games.

They’ll finish off their four-game sojourn with Friday’s contest against the Colorado Avalanche (12-2-0), who have a ton of young talent and one of the NHL’s most stingy penalty-kill units.

“Whenever you’re slumping, what usually happens is you just start shooting the puck from everywhere and it goes off a leg and goes in or something and you get rolling that way,” said Flames powerplay quarterback Dennis Wideman.

“I think we have to simplify things — get it up, start firing pucks to the net and crash the net and just try to bang something in.

“And then build off that.”

wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca

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