The Carolina Hurricanes have talked a lot this season about sticking to the process and attending to all the details in games.
Short shifts. Gap control. Getting pucks deep. Quick line changes. Protecting the "house."
That approach served the Canes well in their recent 4-0-1 run at home. But a poor line change Saturday led to a 4-2 road loss to the St. Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center.
The Blues' Alexander Steen, suddenly alone with the puck on the right wing, blasted a blocker-side shot past Canes goalie Justin Peters to give St. Louis a 3-2 lead in the third period. That came after the Canes had scored twice shorthanded -- the goals coming from Eric Staal and Nathan Gerbe -- in a 57-second span during a second-period St. Louis power play.
Teams rarely score two "shorties" in the same game and lose, or at least not come away with a point. But the Canes did in falling to 8-8-4.
"We got caught on a bad line change and that was the difference," Canes captain Eric Staal said. "It was a tight-checking game and 2-2 going into the third, and you felt the next one was going to be the one. The guy who's pretty hot right now, you don't want him to have that type of look and he did."
Steen leads the NHL in goals (17) and points (26). Peters thought Steen would try to beat him glove-side and shifted in that direction toward the short side, only to have Steen rip one to the far side.
"I thought he was going high glove," Peters said. "He made a good shot."
Added Canes coach Kirk Muller: "That was a big blow for us."
Canes winger Alexander Semin left the game after taking a big shoulder hit from the Blues' Alex Pietrangelo early in the second period. Semin, who appeared to be hit near the shoulder and chin, was taken to the dressing room, returned to briefly play but then left the game again.
Muller did not have an update on Semin after the game. Nor would he say if he believed the Pietrangelo hit should be reviewed by the NHL for a possible fine or suspension.
After a scoreless first, the Blues jumped in front 2-0 in the second on goals by Roman Polak and David Backes. With the Canes coming off a tough home game Friday against the Anaheim Ducks, it appeared the Blues might have made a decisive, winning move.
The Canes then were called for too many men on the ice and the Blues went to the power play. And gave up two goals.
Manny Malhotra forced a turnover by Steen at the Canes' blue line and passed to Staal, who beat Blues goalie Brian Elliott with a backhander. Elliott then came out of net and toward the corner, only to be pressured by Riley Nash and have Gerbe grab the loose puck in the slot and score.
The two shorthanded goals came in the shortest time span since Kevyn Adams and Chad LaRose scored twice in 51 seconds on Nov. 11, 2006.
"They were taking it to us pretty good and we turned things around by some great individual efforts," Peters said.
But the Canes couldn't finish in the third. Another Canes mistake -- an elbowing penalty against Jay Harrison on Pietrangelo with 1:12 left in regulation -- put St. Louis back on the power play and T.J. Oshie scored an empty-netter at the end.
The Canes managed just 16 even-strength shots and 20 in all in the game, four by Gerbe. Mike Komisarek again was in the lineup and used at forward.
"I thought our effort was there, our compete level was there," Staal said. "We came back and battled in the second. We had some life, had some energy, had some jump. Unfortunately we got caught there."
The Canes returned to Raleigh after the game and face the Boston Bruins on Monday at PNC Arena. Then it's back on the road for games at Detroit and Boston.