ST. LOUIS -- There were shot attempts, plenty of them. Many came early, the first five minutes to be exact.
The Blues funneled pucks towards Michal Neuvirth, the Philadelphia Flyers goalie. They had 10 by the five-minute mark of the game and appeared on their way to another victory despite coming up empty in the early going.
But on this night, the Flyers found a way to persevere, even though they were playing four rookie defensemen and the second of back-to-back games.
Neuvirth was sharp, making 33 saves, and Brandon Manning scored early in the second and Claude Giroux iced it with an empty-net goal in a 2-0 victory over the Blues on Thursday before 17,162 at Scottrade Center.
The Blues (10-3-1), looking for their best start in franchise history through 14 games, fell for the first time on home ice (5-1-0) and saw their run of seven straight games with at least a point (6-0-1).
But this was a night when the Flyers (7-6-1), once they got their bearings after the Blues came out in ambush-like fashion, outshooting the Flyers, who fell 3-0 at Chicago on Wednesday by a 10-1 margin. But Neuvirth stood his ground and allowed his teammates to settle into the contest.
The loss spoiled the the revenge factor for Blues center Brayden Schenn but made it a happy homecoming for former Blues center Jori Lehtera. The two were traded for one another at the NHL Draft on June 23.
"Neuvirth played well," Schenn said. "As a team, we weren't even as close as good as we needed to be. We came out a little bit flat, second period wasn't that good either. A team playing on a back-to-back just didn't really give them enough effort.
"It's always weird playing buddies and stuff like that. I think it's a little bit different in that regard, but it would have been nice to beat them."
The Flyers came into the game having to play four rookie defensemen (Mark Alt, Travis Sanheim, Robert Hagg and Will O'Neill, who made his NHL debut for the injured Radko Gudas) but still found a way to pick up an impressive road win by playing a team game, clogging the middle of the ice and putting layers of bodies in front of Neuvirth as the Blues were funnelling pucks to the net.
"First off, I thought they did a very good job defending," Blues coach Mike Yeo said of the Flyers. "We said that this morning, that they had a group of young defensemen, but they were going to be team-focused on trying to protect them and playing a team game. I thought they did a good job of that. I think that we generated some good zone time, some shots, but I don't know that we got to the inside enough. I don't know that we generated a lot of those quality Grade A chances tonight. I don't know if we made it hard enough on the goalie, too."
Did the Flyers made a concerted effort to clog the middle of the ice?
"It was a little combination of both," Yeo said. "In certain situations, there was some tactical stuff that we could have done, executed better. Then at certain times, you know a team that protects the middle of the ice if you're content to stay on the outside, then you'll be there all night."
The game changed early in the second when Manning's innocent wrister from the right point got past a screened Jake Allen, who made 21 saves for the game.
Manning's shot got through traffic, with the Flyers' Jakub Voracek and Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo in front. Referee Ghislain Hebert initially waved off the goal for goaltender interference, but the Flyers challenged the call and it was overturned, determining that Pietrangelo initiated the contact.
It came 38 seconds into the second to make it 1-0.
"We didn't really know where the puck was because there was kind of a scrum," Pietrangelo said. "That stuff happens. It hit my elbow, too. If it doesn't hit my elbow ... It's one goal. We didn't score. Whether that went in or not, the game would have been 0-0."
Schenn, who was involved in multiple high percentage scoring chances, was also involved in a collision with former teammate Sean Couturier at 11:39 of the second. Couturier left the ice for the remainder of the period but returned after going through concussion protocol.
"He toe dragged the puck into the middle," Schenn said of Couturier. "I'm not trying to go out and hurt a guy. I know him pretty well, I played with him for six or seven years. I didn't even finish through him, I was gliding, I tucked my shoulder, tucked my elbow, didn't hit his head.
"To be honest, I wasn't really watching. Maybe the puck got poked off his stick. He came back in the game obviously. He probably went through the protocol. The last thing I'm trying to do is hurt a former teammate I spent six years with. I didn't even finish my check going through him, I just glided through him."
Schenn also was denied by former teammate Neuvirth, who gloved a Schenn wrister at the 7:17 mark of the second and denied him in tight with 33 seconds to play.
"I shot on him a lot and he obviously made a good save there," Schenn said of Neuvirth.
"I played with 'Schenner' for a couple years in Philly," Neuvirth said. "I know he likes to go high glove and I read it well."
The Blues pressed and had their chances in the third. They switched up some line combinations, got some terrific scoring chances, with Vladimir Tarasenko having the best when he cut to the slot and was eyeing down Neuvirth before missing the target completely.
And when the game moved along into the third and the Blues searching for that one glimmer of hope, none would be there.
It was that kind of night.
"Just trying to spark something," Yeo said of the line changes. "We had a really good start in this game. We didn't get the lead. You know that they're gonna have a push in that second period. They've got to be feeling good about that first period, getting through it. And so I thought that we were starting to get, whether it's frustrated, flat, whatever it was. We were not on top of our game in the second period. I thought they had the better of the play so we were just trying to look for a spark. Something to get us going.
"I thought we brought some better energy in the third period, but again obviously couldn't get on the board."
Giroux scored an empty-net goal with 5.4 seconds left to seal it.
St. Louis was shut out at home for the first time since Dec. 30, 2016.
"We could have played better in the second," Pietrangelo said. "The first, we were on and off. We played a pretty good third period there. We had a lot of looks. Neuvirth played well. We've got to find a way to score. You can't win if you don't score."
The Blues attempted 68 shots for the game, 33 on, 20 blocked and 15 off target, including five by Tarasenko, who attempted a team-high and season-high 16 shots.
Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov 10 blocked shots and tied a team single-game record previously held by Andrew MacDonald on March 11, 2016 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"I think that the second period was the backbreaker for us," Yeo said. "That's the period that when you're playing against a team like this, I felt that they spent more time in the offensive zone than we did that period. Or at least more quality time in the offensive zone. If we would've been on top of our game, then we would've forced them to defend, we would've forced them to retrieve pucks, we would've made them play tiring, hard minutes. And I think that would've set the game up for us in the third period.
"I don't think we did that well enough in the second."