David Perron got rave reviews from his new head coach in his first game in over a year. The Blues forward, though, was unable to get his club a victory and will try to prevent St. Louis from losing a third straight game this evening against the Detroit Red Wings.
Perron returned to action on Saturday for the first time since he suffered a concussion versus the Sharks on Nov. 4, 2010. The injury cost him 97 games and briefly slowed down a career that saw Perron net a career-high 20 goals in 2009-10.
The 23-year-old scored a first-period goal in his return versus the Blackhawks, but the Blues suffered a 5-2 defeat. Hitchcock, who took over for a fired Davis Payne on Nov. 6, was clearly impressed with his winger despite the loss.
"He's really a good player. He's going to really help this team. About four more (guys) like him and we'll be fine," said Hitchcock, who was also asked about Perron's 19 minutes of ice time in his first game back.
"I didn't even look. As long as he had energy, he was playing," answered Hitchcock. "I mean, at times he was the best player on the ice for both teams."
Perron was a bit more critical of his own play.
"It's what I expected. I didn't feel that good but I didn't feel that bad either," said Perron. "I scored a goal tonight, but I would have liked to have more."
Chris Stewart also tallied for the Blues, who fell to 8-2-3 under Hitchcock. Brian Elliott gave up four goals on 35 shots to end his personal six-game win streak and fall to 10-2-0 on the season. It was the first time in 12 starts that Elliott allowed more than two goals.
St. Louis lost the opener of a five-game homestand, falling to 8-3-1 as the host, and plays host to a Detroit club that saw its seven-game win streak end on Sunday with a 4-2 loss to Colorado.
"I don't think we played very well. We didn't seem to have our legs," said Cleary.
Detroit also lost center Valtteri Filppula because of a lacerated left leg. Filppula has eight goals and 13 assists on the year and is questionable for tonight.
The Red Wings, who won four times on the road over their win streak, wrap a three-game road trip and dropped to 6-6-0 as the guest this season.
Behind 21 saves from Elliott and a game-winning goal by Alexander Steen, the Blues defeated the Red Wings 2-1 on Nov. 15 to improve to 3-1-1 in their last five versus Detroit both overall and as the host.
That game was the fourth for the Blues under Hitchcock.
Howard stopped 35-of-37 shots for Detroit, which went 0-for-6 on the power play.