The Blues' seven-game losing streak began innocently enough.
Even though they had several of their stars out of the lineup, they were competitive. The defense and goaltending had its share of malfunctions, but there were signs of solid ground.
Save for the Blues' third-period rally earlier this week, the club can point to none of that after its 7-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night at Savvis Center.
On the night some in the crowd of 13,626 were reminiscing about the past, as former Blue Chris Pronger made his return to St. Louis, perhaps more were busy forecasting a bleak future.
Pronger went pointless in the game, but Edmonton's Jarret Stoll, Ryan Smyth and Raffi Torres were scoring machines against the Blues. Stoll had two goals and two assists, Smyth notched two goals and Torres collected two assists for the Oilers, who won their fifth consecutive game.
For St. Louis, its seventh consecutive loss matched a franchise record, which was set in 1967 and tied in 1989. Blues coach Mike Kitchen called the loss "probably the poorest we've skated as a team" this season.
For the second consecutive game, the team trailed 2-0 in the early going. Goaltender Patrick Lalime surrendered a goal on the first shot against him, giving the Oilers a 1-0 lead on Stoll's first tally.
While the Blues' Bryce Salvador provided a glimmer of hope with his first goal of the season to cut it to 2-1, this game would turn out nothing like Wednesday, when the team rallied from a 5-2 deficit against the Blackhawks before losing 6-5 in overtime.
Before this one ended, Lalime was on the bench, the Blues would make several trips to the penalty box, and Kitchen would send plenty of elbows flying at the back of the bench.
"Disappointing tonight," Kitchen said.
Just like in Wednesday's game, the Blues were catching an opponent playing its second game in as many nights. And by committing eight penalties and going zero of eight on the power play, they didn't have a chance.
"We let them off the hook," defenseman Eric Brewer said. "You almost don't know where to start from. We're not helping ourselves in any way. We're last in the league because we deserve to be last in the league."
The Blues, who have just seven points after 13 games, are catching some bad bounces. Doug Weight (head injury) sat out again Friday. He hopes to be back Sunday against Detroit.
Tough times, too, are happening on the ice. Trailing 3-1 against Edmonton, defenseman Eric Weinrich was whistled for a penalty while trying to stop Smyth on a breakaway. Though Smyth got a shot off, missing off the right post, official Chris Lee awarded him a penalty shot. He scored for a 4-1 advantage with 6:02 left in the second period.
"I don't even know what they're calling out there, to tell you the truth," Weinrich said. "I asked (Lee) and he just told me to skate away. I definitely didn't hook him. He got a shot off. ... The last time I read the rules, the guy gets a shot, it's a penalty. But I didn't think it was a penalty shot."
Kitchen said he thought Edmonton "had too many men on the ice before the penalty shot was called."
The Blues aren't kidding themselves, though. They know who's to blame. The team was outhustled all night, particularly in the defensive zone. Lalime allowed four goals on 15 shots and was replaced by Reinhard Divis to start the third period. Divis allowed three goals on 13 shots.
In other NHL action: Washington 3, Atlanta 2; Montreal 3, Buffalo 2; Dallas 9, Chicago 1; Vancouver 5, Columbus 3; San Jose 1, Anaheim 0.