Blues look to gain upper hand on Coyotes
The St. Louis Blues hope to be less hospitable when they host the Arizona Coyotes again Saturday.
The Coyotes defeated the Blues 4-3 on Thursday night for their first road victory of the season. They rebounded from their 4-3 loss to the Blues on Tuesday.
The NHL rescheduled the Blues and Coyotes to play this game at St. Louis and another on Monday due to COVID-19 postponements with the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild.
"We're going to play four times in this building," Coyotes forward Conor Garland said. "Anytime you can come in and play a good team and split the series, that's good. We won one of the first two, and now we've just been handed two more games. We've got two big games coming up."
The Blues saw their four-game winning streak snapped with Thursday's loss. The Coyotes carried the play for much of the game while racing to a 3-0 lead.
"It seemed like they wanted it more than us right from the drop of the puck in the first period," said Blues winger Mike Hoffman, who scored twice during the loss. "They came out hungry, they were better with the puck, they worked harder than us and at the end of the day they deserved the game more than we did."
This did not sit well with Blues coach Craig Berube, who lamented his team's uneven play.
"It does have to come from inside each individual," he said. "And I believe there's a bunch of individuals in there that do compete and work and are ready to play. But we have too many that aren't, and if that's the case you're going to have a tough time winning."
Berube didn't single out any players after the game, but he made it clear he was pondering lineup changes.
Defenseman Marco Scandella (upper-body injury) was a late scratch from Thursday's lineup for the Blues. Carl Gunnarsson replaced him. Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo (upper-body injury) is close to returning.
Arizona got defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin in the lineup for the first time Thursday. He has been sidelined by immigration issues. Winger Michael Chaput replaced Dryden Hunt (lower-body injury) in the lineup.
The Coyotes will focus on closing out games better. They allowed the Blues to stage a late rally Thursday after St. Louis pulled goaltender Jordan Binnington for an extra attacker.
The Blues outscored the Coyotes 3-1 in the final 3:15 of play.
"We stuck with it," Garland said. "They're a great team. So, we knew they were going to make a push. Obviously, you hate to see it get that close. They've got elite players out there, all six of them out there, they can snap it around. We've just got to buckle down a little more and make sure it doesn't get that close. But a win's a win."
The Coyotes stopped four Blues power plays.
Christian Dvorak's empty-net goal clinched the victory for Arizona. He has five goals and an assist in his last three games.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 5, 2021