ST. LOUIS — Alexander Steen, who can shoot a puck harder and faster than any of his St. Louis Blues teammates, knew immediately it might go in.
“When you let it go, and you picked your spot, you kind of feel like this one has a chance,” the center said Wednesday night after his late-game heroics beat the Chicago Blackhawks.
Yes, while the St. Louis Cardinals were clinching the National League Division Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates down the street, the Blues knocked off their bitter rivals, who also happen to be the defending Stanley Cup champions.
“I just knew the way the game was going to go,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said after the 3-2 win that bumped the Blues to 3-0 for the first time since 1993-94.
“Somebody was going to get an odd-man rush, because both teams gave away a few today,” Hitchcock said. “That game was so revved up that you got caught in no-man’s land a few times. But we got a lot out of this game. We got a lot out of this game. We got a lot of information moving forward.”
One takeaway was this: Alexander Steen is rolling again.
Steen has scored a goal per game to start this season, more than any other Blue. This comes after he totaled just eight goals in 40 games last year, three of which came in the Blues’ last six games.
“I, quite frankly, think this is just a continuation of the way he played in the playoffs, to be honest with you,” Hitchcock said of Steen.
The carryover is a welcome one for both Steen and Blues fans. Steen, who has been hampered by everything from a concussion to shoulder, ankle and wrist injuries in recent years, said he felt as good as ever headed into this season.
It showed when it mattered most Wednesday.
“I had to look around at first,” Steen said, describing how his game-winner developed. “I heard from the bench we had a rush, but I wanted to know how much time and space we had.”
He then sprinted down the left side of the ice, past the blue line. The teammate he would have passed to, T.J. Oshie, was covered.
“I knew I had a shot,” Steen said.
He ripped it low and hard like no other Blue can, and Blackhawks goalkeeper Corey Crawford didn’t stand a chance. Follow Ben Frederickson on Twitter (@Ben_Fred), or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org