Jake Allen allowed five goals on 23 shots before being pulled from the game Tuesday night as the Blues lost 7-4 to the Florida Panthers. (St. Louis Blues)

By Rob Rains

There might not be anybody on the Blues who needs the league-mandated five-day vacation that begins on Wednesday more than Jake Allen.

Allen’s struggles continued on Tuesday night as he failed to make it through the second period, giving up five goals on 23 shots as the Blues lost 7-4 to the Florida Panthers at Scottrade Center.

It’s the second consecutive start in which Allen allowed five goals, the last two against the Panthers coming 42 seconds apart, leading coach Mike Yeo to pull Allen with 3:23 left in the second period.

Allen fell to 1-8 in his last nine starts.

For a while during that stretch, the Blues were not scoring goals while Allen was in the net and especially on Saturday in Philadelphia, they played very sloppy in front of him. Against the Panthers, however, his game just seemed to deteriorate as the first two periods progressed.

There is no doubt that Allen’s confidence has taken a major hit, which he will need to find when the Blues return to practice next Monday before leaving for a two-game trip to Toronto and Ottawa.

“Jake’s going through a hard time right now,” said coach Mike Yeo. “Let’s be honest. I think he had a good start to the game and the next thing you know we are doing some things that put him in a bad position.”

The Blues and Allen could not protect a 2-0 lead in the first period or a 3-2 margin in the second. After Vladimir Tarasenko scored his 19th goal of the year, off a perfect cross-ice pass from Ivan Barbashev to give the Blues the 3-2 lead, the Panthers scored three times in a 4:14 span to take a 5-3 lead and chase Allen.

One of Florida’s goals deflected off a skate, and another hit Allen’s mask, then the post before winding up in the back of the net.

“The second period, we know that’s not the level that Jake can play at,” Yeo said. “I go into every game expecting Jake to play at the level we saw last year, that’s who he is. But we also have to help him out too and that was disturbing tonight.”

Allen also went through a rough stretch last January, at one point getting pulled from four consecutive games, and Yeo hopes Allen can use that experience to help him get out of his current slump.

“The one thing that he has going for him is that he’s been through it and he’s come out of it,” Yeo said. “He’s going to see it’s not going to turn around just because you want it too. It’s going to be a tough thing. He can also use Huts right now (Carter Hutton). He’s played real well for us and that can give Jake some time to find things.

“I don’t know what the plan is going forward but there’s no question I still believe in Jake and the team still believes in Jake and he will get back to the level he can play at.”

Allen was not made available to the media following the game, but his teammates came to his defense.

“Lots of those goals are five guys in front of him. We’re making mistakes and turning the puck over,” said defenseman Joel Edmundson. “They had clear shots. It’s not just him, it’s the whole group … It’s the whole team, you just blame him. As a group we’ve got to be a lot better.”

Added forward Alexander Steen, “It’s our group, it’s not one individual. That’s something I think that’s really pushed us forward throughout the years and even this year. We started this year with some injuries and some adversity and that didn’t get to us and this won’t get to us either. We pull together and sort this out as a group.”

After Hutton took over, the Panthers added a shorthanded goal and an empty-net goal, increasing the total number of goals allowed by the Blues in their last three games to 17.
Tage Thompson also scored for the Blues in the third period, giving the Blues more than three goals in a game for the first time since Dec. 9, a span of 16 games.

Yeo was direct in his criticism of his team’s efforts.

“We won’t accept it, we haven’t accepted it, but this is where we draw the line in the sand,” Yeo said. “That’s enough. It’s not who we are and it won’t continue. Collectively as a group tonight we were not good enough.

“That’s enough. It’s enough of games like that. It’s unacceptable, we can’t accept that playing in front of our home crowd.”