ST. LOUIS — Goals are tough to come by these days for the St. Louis Blues.
A 2-0 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday left them with two goals or fewer in eight of their previous 11 games and five in their last five contests.
A once-effective power play that led the NHL earlier this season continues to plod through a lengthy and puzzling slump. In the last 27 games the Blues have scored just six times on 72 man-advantage opportunities (8.3 percent).
"I think we've been too static or too hesitant to shoot the puck," Blues captain David Backes said. "Let's create chaos in there, that's got to be our focus moving forward."
Also a top-notch penalty killer, Backes talked about how a lifeless and predictable power play makes things easier on opponents.
"We're static and as a penalty killer that's what you love, when you can get in the lanes ... when you know where guys are," Backes said. "When it's a tornado in there ... that's when all hell breaks loose. You don't know what's going on, all of a sudden there's a seam or a loose puck or a back door. That's when you score the goal on the power play."
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said his team seems a bit hesitant on the power play.
"Plays come from point shots," he said. "You make plays after the puck's on the net and then they have to find it. Too many extra plays. When we shot it we had good success, we had all kinds of traffic, all kinds of stuff at the net."
The Blues aren't only not scoring on the power play, they're not scoring much, period.
Some of the team's top forwards are among the guilty parties.
Backes, a two-time 30-goal scorer, has five goals in 41 games and just two in his last 21 contests. Team scoring leader Chris Stewart followed up a torrid stretch where he had nine goals in eight games with another stretch that has seen him score once in the last 11.
Stewart had just one shot Sunday as did David Perron, who has gone 15 games without a goal. Alexander Steen has one goal in his last 11 games and Patrik Berglund has one in his last 12, an empty-netter.
Since his hat trick on March 9, Vladimir Sobotka has one goal in his last 17 games.
The production from the offensive defensemen has dried up, too. Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo has gone 17 games since his last goal on March 7 while Kevin Shattenkirk has two goals in his last 20 contests.
Of the Blues' last 11 goals, two are by Adam Cracknell and rare scorers Roman Polak and Chris Porter have one apiece.
"The more bodies we can throw in front of the net and whack and hack, find some loose pucks... that's the way we need to score goals," Backes said. "Point shots and traffic, get in the face and find some rebounds. Just keep our nose to the grindstone and concentrate on the process and what it takes and what the recipe is for scoring goals rather than only looking for results."
Trying to make the extra pass or the perfect play won't get it done, according to Backes.
"Truth is you can score a cute one, then you think you're going to get cute ones all over the place," he said. "That's a recipe for disaster."
While the defense has tightened and the goaltending has stabilized, the Blues need to find ways to look for more offense.
"I think the most important thing is we just stay with it and don't let it get us discouraged," Shattenkirk said. "If it's not going in the first two periods, you can't assume that it's just going to happen in the third.
"We just have to trust ourselves, trust our game and when it's not going our way, stay with the program."
The Blues had 17 hits against the Blackhawks in the first period Sunday, but only five the rest of the game. They still outhit Chicago 22-13. ... The Blues wore white jerseys, what used to be the norm at home, with the Blackhawks wearing their red ones. ... Six of the Blues' final seven games are at home, where they are 9-8-1 this season. They have a better record on the road (14-8-1).