While the record will show the St. Louis Blues losing 5-4 to Ottawa in a shootout on Tuesday, this was a game that was lost during a painful early stretch in the third period.
A 3-1 Blues lead disappeared during a 2-minute, 35-second span that saw the Senators score three goals to grab the lead. And while the Blues got a goal from defenseman Jordan Leopold to tie it with 8:52 remaining in regulation, they never regained the momentum they held earlier.
Despite firing a season-high 50 shots, the Blues were unable to hold a two-goal lead and missed two chances to close it out in the shootout. They also were 0-for-7 on the power play and are now 25-0-4 when leading after two periods.
"We're probably taking a step the wrong way when we've got the game in good hands," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We're turning pretty comfortable games into track meets."
Blues winger T.J. Oshie had a goal and assist and said there's no time to sulk with home games Thursday against Boston and Saturday against Winnipeg.
"I think there's things we've got to clean up," Oshie said. "I don't think we've got to get too down on ourselves. The guys that made the mistakes, they know that they made them. We'll clean them up. We're going to be fine."
Kyle Turris won it for the Senators in the shootout's fifth round after the Blues twice failed on opportunities to win it. They scored on their first two shootout chances against Senators goalie Robin Lehner, but he stopped the ones he needed to later.
Lehner had been 0-6 in shootouts, allowing 12 goals on 24 shots. It was 14 goals on 26 attempts after T.J. Oshie and Alexander Steen scored for St. Louis, but Lehner regrouped to stop Vladimir Tarasenko, Kevin Shattenkirk and Maxim Lapierre.
Mika Zibanejad and Stephane Da Costa also scored in the tiebreaker for Ottawa. Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak had been 4-1 in shootouts, allowing just three goals on 16 shots.
Oshie had a goal and an assist in regulation for the Blues, who lost at home to an Eastern Conference opponent for the first time in 10 games this season.
Jason Spezza had his third three-point game of the season and capped a three-goal flurry in a span of 2:35 that gave Ottawa a 4-3 lead midway through the third. Erik Karlsson had a goal and an assist to give him 53 points, best among NHL defensemen. Turris also scored a goal.
Leopold tied it at 11:08 with his first of the season on an odd-angled shot that banged off Lehner.
The attendance of 14,758 was more than 4,000 shy of capacity at the Scottrade Center, the crowd held down by a snowstorm that left roadways clogged.
The Blues also set a season best with 23 shots in a two-goal second period, seemingly taking control with a 3-1 lead despite coming up empty with more than 2 minutes of a two-man advantage.
The puck got lodged in the netting on Oshie's goal that made it 3-2, a score that went unannounced until after Oshie pointed out the puck's location and then the play was reviewed.
"It was still hanging there and people started shoveling the ice and I wanted to argue my case," Oshie said. "I knew it was in."
Ottawa beat Halak for three goals in a span of four shots in the third, with Milan Michalek and Turris scoring. The Senators bounced back from a 2-1 overtime loss at Pittsburgh a night earlier.
Besides scoring his first goal in 38 games with St. Louis over two seasons, Leopold also saved one in the second period. Karlsson's shot trickled between Halak's pads and was on the goal line and still sliding when the defenseman swatted it away.
Turris tied it on a pass that deflected off the skate of a Blues player at 7:02, and Spezza capitalized when the Blues failed to clear the puck out of the zone and beat Halak with a high drive that ticked off the stick of a defenseman for his 15th goal of the season and a 4-3 lead.
Scouting the Bruins
The Blues beat the Bruins 3-2 in a shotout in Boston earlier this season, but the Bruins (36-16-3) have won six of their last seven games.
One positive for the Blues is that the Bruins will be without all-star defenseman Zdeno Chara, who left earlier this week to travel to Russia to carry his native Slovakia's flad in the Winter Olympics opening ceremony Frday in Russia.
Boston plays stingy defense and has the NHL's second-best goals-average at 2.10, but also is among the league leaders in scoring with seven players at 30 points or higher.
That list includes David Krejci (12 goals, 47 points), Jarome Iginla (16 goals, 40 points), Reilly Smith (18 goals, 40 points) and Milan Lucic (16 goals, 39 points).