When the St. Louis Blues and the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins meet Saturday, it will be a clash of teams eyeing a rebound from a loss that left lingering frustration.
Perhaps the best thing the Blues could say about their 6-2 loss Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes is that the game didn’t go to a shootout, as their first two games did.
Then again, there was little danger of that.
“We were flat all around,” St. Louis coach Craig Berube said. “Didn’t skate. Didn’t execute anything. We didn’t move at all.”
It was an effort, or lack of one, that followed two closely contested games.
“Very surprised,” Berube said of Thursday’s dud. “We’ve got work to do.”
The Blues have scored just four goals through their first three games and have yet to hold a lead. They gave up three power-play goals to the Coyotes.
“It’s execution — moving your feet and being ready to play,” St. Louis forward Brayden Schenn said. “If you look back at our (first) two games, how hard it was to get points, we realize anyone can beat anyone in this league. If you’re not going to come prepared fully, teams are going to give it to you.”
St. Louis had four days off to prepare for the game against Arizona. Now, it’s just one day off between games.
“It’s early in the season. We have to look at the clips and clear some stuff up,” Blues forward Jakub Vrana said.
St. Louis forward Pavel Buchnevich missed Thursday’s game because of an upper-body injury. His status for Saturday is unclear.
Pittsburgh, meanwhile, has insult to deal with but apparently avoided injury.
Penguins six-time All-Star defenseman Kris Letang and forward Noel Acciari returned to practice Friday after missing Thursday’s session to be evaluated for injuries.
Pittsburgh has had a roller coaster start — a blown two-goal lead, a win by shutout, a convincing win with a five-goal performance and, Wednesday, a disheartening 6-3 loss against the Detroit Red Wings.
“Teams go through ups and downs during the season,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “There are challenges along the way, and how you handle those challenges, in a lot of ways, it dictates your ability to have success.”
The Penguins struck in the first minute against the Red Wings on a goal from center Evgeni Malkin, who has three goals and seven points through four games. But then came the doldrums as Detroit scored four straight goals before the Penguins got back in the game in the third.
“We just kind of lost ourselves for six or seven minutes in the second period, and they scored on us in that time frame,” Sullivan said.
Lapses like that are a cause for concern — after all, such lapses were a major issue last season when Pittsburgh missed the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
“Our team knows what we have to do in order to be successful,” Penguins winger Bryan Rust said. “Points in October do mean the same as the ones in March. That’s kind of our mindset here. We can’t take anything for granted early on. We’ve to fight for every point, every win we can (get).”