ST. LOUIS — For a stretch of about six minutes during the third period Thursday, the Golden Knights did what they needed to mount a comeback.
They held the St. Louis Blues without a shot on a power play, cashed in on a man advantage of their own to climb within a goal and had their opponent reeling.
Then, as it repeatedly has this season, one mistake proved costly.
Tyler Bozak’s goal with 8:13 remaining squelched all the Knights’ momentum and ensured a 5-3 defeat before an announced gathering of 16,813 at Enterprise Center.
“I think we just have to look at ourselves in the mirror and realize we’re not doing a lot of details,” center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare said. “It’s not on purpose, but at times you try to help the team that is often out of the system and it kind of costs us. We just have to figure it out and play the system 60 minutes and we’ll be fine.”
The Knights lost both games on their road trip and are 1-3-1 in their past five, dropping to seventh place in the eight-team Pacific Division with 11 points.
Since the 2005-06 season, 51 of the 58 teams that were four points or more out of a playoff spot on Nov. 1 missed the postseason.
“We’re sitting at the bottom of the barrel,” center Erik Haula said. “Everybody says it’s early, but that’s never somewhere you want to be. You’ve got to get out of there. You don’t want to fall behind, so it’s desperation mode now.”
Bellemare scored in the first period for the Knights, who never led, and Haula notched his first goal in 10 games in the second period.
Tuch, who finished with two points with his dad in attendance, scored on a power play with 11:58 remaining in the third when he poked home a loose puck in the crease moments after Blues goaltender Jake Allen turned away Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault.
The Knights appeared to be in control at that point, but Tuch was unable to tie up Bozak in front and he beat Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury with a shot from below the hashmarks.
“You’ve got to take care of the defensive zone first and move on to the offensive zone,” Tuch said. “At times we did that and we capitalized on it, but other times we got a little lackadaisical, took a little too long of a shift, and that’s how they scored their fifth one. I was on the ice too long, and we couldn’t get the puck out.”
Oskar Sundqvist, who had two career goals in 72 games before Thursday, scored twice for the Blues. Bozak added an assist on top of his back-breaking goal, and Robert Thomas notched two assists.
St. Louis scored three times in the second period and seized a 4-2 lead.
With Knights defenseman Brad Hunt in the penalty box, Vladimir Tarasenko popped in a rebound eight seconds into the power play, putting the Blues on top 2-1 at 3:11 of the second.
Haula tied the game 23 seconds later when he redirected Shea Theodore’s shot from the point, but Sundqvist took a drop pass from Thomas and beat Fleury for his second goal.
Defenseman Colton Parayko gave the Blues a 4-2 advantage at 14:49 of the second when he one-timed a pass from Ryan O’Reilly following a turnover by the Knights.
“We had some good moments tonight, and again, we end up losing the hockey game,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “We have to find it, there’s no doubt. … We just kept playing from behind tonight, and we just didn’t look sharp.”
1. Blue line changes. Defenseman Brad Hunt made his first appearance since Oct. 24, replacing Jon Merrill, who made a costly mistake in Tuesday’s 4-1 loss at Nashville. Hunt had three shots on goal in 16:44 of ice time, but also took a costly penalty in the second period that led to a power-play goal.
2. Playing time. Coach Gerard Gallant rewarded his fourth line for their recent play, giving them more ice time during 5-on-5 play than the third line. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, who had the Knights’ first goal, played a total of 13:56. Only once this season has Bellemare logged more playing time.
3. Instant impact. Blues forward Robby Fabbri played his first game since Feb. 4, 2017, following two knee surgeries and received a loud ovation when he hopped over the boards for his first shift. Not long after, the former first-round pick notched an assist on Oskar Sundqvist’s goal 2:02 into the game.
David Schoen Review-Journal