ST. LOUIS – New coach, same result for the St. Louis Blues. Another dud at home.
Tomas Kopecky had his first two-goal game and third career multi-point effort for the Chicago Blackhawks, who spoiled Davis Payne’s debut as Blues interim coach in a 6-3 victory Saturday night.
“There’s work to be done,” said Payne, elevated from the team’s AHL club in Peoria, Ill., earlier in the day. “It hurts in any language, in any league. It’s disappointing.”
Patrick Sharp also had two goals and the Blackhawks scored four straight goals to pull away from a two-all tie. Chicago has won five of six and is tied with New Jersey for second place overall in the NHL, two points behind San Jose.
Brian Campbell and Kris Versteeg also scored for Chicago.
“It always feels great when you score,” Kopecky said. “It helps the team especially when you win. It was a great feeling.”
Eric Brewer, Andy McDonald and Keith Tkachuk scored for the Blues, who lost their fifth in a row at home after failing to capitalize on a seven-minute power play in the first period.
Home woes got Andy Murray fired earlier in the day and an 11th straight sellout combined with the change to Payne failed to get the Blues out of their rut.
“There’s no excuses for some of the mistakes we made and the odd-man rushes we gave them,” forward David Backes said. “As much as six goals against hurts, they could have had a few more.”
The Blues are 6-14-3 at home, one of the wins coming in Sweden to open the season. They’ve been a confounding team, given their superior 11-4-3 road record.
St. Louis has lost five in a row overall and the goals allowed matched a season worst. But Payne emphasized he’s just getting started and has no theories on the team’s home struggles.
“This is Game 1 for me,” Payne said. “What’s gone on in the past, certainly the more you dwell, the more you kind of lose traction. We simply need to focus on how we’re going to gain traction.”
Kopecky has three goals and five assists in 39 games but also had two assists in a victory over the Devils on Thursday while providing unexpected production from the fourth line. In 222 career games he has 15 goals and 40 points.
“Nice to see that line score a couple of goals early,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “All of a sudden, you know you’re going to have a good night. That got us going.”
The Blackhawks had a 13-5 shots advantage in the crucial second period. Campbell’s fifth goal from the slot ricocheted off at least two players at 3:15 and Versteeg kept the puck on a 2-on-1 break before beating Ty Conklin on a shot just inside the post with less than two minutes to go.
Defenceman Mike Weaver’s perfect mid-ice hit flattened Sharp, leading to retaliation that saddled Cam Barker with seven minutes in penalties plus a game misconduct. The Blues settled for tying it at two at 16:05 on McDonald’s 13th goal when Cristobal Huet’s clearing attempt deflected off the forward’s skate, although both teams were a man short.
“I got up and didn’t know where the punches were coming from,” Weaver said. “Everybody has to sacrifice their bodies. You could see the crowd was into it.”
The Blackhawks had a 12-3 shots advantage the first 13 minutes, including Kopecky’s second and third goals of the season off assists from Colin Fraser. Backes assisted on both of the Blues’ first-period goals.
NOTES: The Blackhawks are 10-6-2 on the road, 18-4-1 at home. … Chicago is 23-4-2 when scoring first. … Blues defenceman Erik Johnson’s first-period assist snapped a nine-game scoreless drought. … Jonathan Toews was scoreless, ending a five-game points streak during which he had two goals and eight assists. … Colin Fraser assisted on both Chicago goals in the first period.