ST. LOUIS — If things don't change quickly for the St. Louis Blues at home, there's every reason to expect coach Ken Hitchcock and general manager Doug Armstrong could begin making changes of their own.
Scoring just one goal for the fourth time during a five-game home losing streak, the Blues dropped a 2-1 decision on Tuesday to a San Jose Sharks team that had lost seven straight and hadn't won in February.
"This is common, what we've been doing the last four or five games at home," Hitchcock said, shooing away any questions about the team being tired following a long layover in Vancouver the day before because of a mechanical problem with the team's charter flight. "It's the same stuff, too many passengers. Too many people not pulling their weight. Too much skill ahead of work out of certain guys, same guys, night-in, night-out at home. We don't do it on the road, but we do it at home."
Blues rookie goalie Jake Allen was making his fourth straight start after three consecutive road wins and played well for much of the night.
But with the game tied early in the third period, San Jose's Tim Kennedy let a high shot go from the left face-off circle. Allen said he felt he should have had it, but the puck got between his arm and his body and squirted into the net.
"It was a bit of a knuckler, it sort of wobbled on me and just ... I don't even know how it squeaked through me," Allen said. "It's the way the game goes, those things happen sometimes. Tough way to go down."
Blues defenseman Barret Jackman said the energy level was fine. The Sharks were more concerned with ending their seven-game losing streak than the Blues spending some extra time in Vancouver.
"They're a team that's struggled the last few games and they needed to come out hard," Jackman said. "Whether we had a long day of travel or not, they were going to come at us the same way. They did their job, they stuck to their game plan."
Allen was called upon early, shutting down Joe Pavelski's one-timer following a Blues turnover.
Patrik Berglund's fourth goal in four games and team-leading ninth this season put the Blues on top 1-0 with 7 minutes, 6 seconds remaining in the first period.
Vladimir Sobotka snaked his way in and out of traffic before feeding Berglund in front for the tap-in.
The Blues had the final seven shots of the first period, outshooting the Sharks 12-9 in the first 20 minutes.
In their first seven homes games, which included back-to-back shutouts to open the season, Blues goalies had a ghastly 3.37 goals-against average and .825 save percentage.
Just 3:55 into the second period, Sharks captain Joe Thornton wedged his way behind the defense and banged in a rebound to tie it 1-1.
Sharks goalie Antti Niemi had a big stop on Blues captain David Backes late in the second period when Backed worked his way in alone.
The Blues didn't generate much intensity or high-quality scoring chances in the third period, outshot by San Jose 9-5.
Hitchcock's insistence that the offense begins with better defense won't be changing any time soon.
"We're not good enough, we're not skilled enough to play that way, but that's what happens," he said. "When you put skill ahead of work, maybe you get away with it a little bit. But when you do it constantly....just too many guys wanted the game to be a little easier. That's the difference."
Why is the effort different at home than on the road, where the Blues just knocked off Detroit, Calgary and Vancouver in rapid succession?
"Because it's a natural instinct, you're at home, you want it to be easier," Hitchcock said.
The Blues used Brian Elliott as Allen's backup Tuesday to make sure Jaroslav Halak was rested for Wednesday's game in Colorado.
It will be Halak's first start since Feb. 1 as he missed the previous eight games.
Hitchcock wants the Blues to work much harder at home, a fact that he hammered home several times during his postgame remarks.
"There's a reason we score one goal," he said. "Our goalie was great tonight, we didn't give up much after the first six minutes but we didn't get much, either. It was an unfortunate second goal, but when you're constantly scoring one goal at home there's a reason. You're not going in the hard areas, you're not doing the hard things. You're not competing near hard enough to score."