The slumping St. Louis Blues got off to a slow start, falling behind by two goals to the Detroit Red Wings.
”It looked like a case of here we go again,” St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said.
The Blues, though, had other plans.
Alexander Steen stuffed in a rebound 52 seconds into overtime Wednesday night to lift St. Louis to a much-needed 4-3 victory over Detroit.
”Just hoping something bounced out,” Steen said. ”Got lucky. I think we got scared into the right direction. I think that fear made us play hockey.”
The Blues were good early, starting 6-1, then lost five straight before rallying for a win in Detroit.
”This is a real boost for our team,” Hitchcock said. ”This is the boost that we need to start playing like last year.”
St. Louis advanced in the playoffs last year for the first time in a decade before being swept by the eventual-champion Los Angeles Kings in the second round.
After sputtering early in the lockout-shortened season, Detroit had won a season-high three straight wins with a stretch of success that started with a 5-1 victory over St. Louis.
The Red Wings set themselves up to extend the streak, but blew a two-goal lead in the first period and chances to win in the third period on a pair of chances with an extra skater.
”If we would have kept playing like we did in the first I don’t think we would have needed a power-play goal,” Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg said. ”It was probably our best first period of the whole year and then they took over completely in the second period.”
St. Louis goalie Jake Allen, making his first NHL start in his second game in the league, made 15 saves. Jaroslav Halak missed his fifth straight game with a groin strain, an injury he had in a Feb. 1 loss against Detroit, and Hitchcock said he’s day to day.
Hitchcock was happy with the way Allen, and his teammates, bounced back after being down 0-2.
”This is a game that could’ve gotten away on us,” Hitchcock said.
Jimmy Howard faced just three shots in the first period and finished with 21 saves for the Red Wings.
Allen gave up a goal on Detroit’s first shot, getting fooled by fellow rookie Tomas Tatar’s deke in front of the net that set up his first score of the season 2:17 into the game. Drew Miller scored his first goal of the year 5-plus minutes later to give the Red Wings a 2-0 lead.
”Our third and fourth line, they got us the goals,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. ”I should have probably stuck with them longer than I did.”
Patrik Berglund’s short-handed goal late in the first period pulled St. Louis within a goal. Rookie Vladimir Tarasenko’s sixth goal of the season tied it at 7:12 of the second period and Chris Stewart put the Blues ahead 3-2 less than 2 minutes later.
Pavel Datsyuk tied it again with his sixth goal midway through the second period, scoring from behind the net on a shot that went off Allen’s left leg.
The Red Wings had two power plays in the third period, but couldn’t take advantage. They had just six shots combined over the second and third periods after getting 11 on net in the first.
”I didn’t tell ’em not to shoot,” Babcock bristled.
Notes: Red Wings F Johan Franzen missed the game with a hip injury and Patrick Eaves replaced him in the lineup. … Detroit and St. Louis played for the fourth time in 13 games during the lockout-shortened schedule and will meet for a fifth and final scheduled April 7 in Detroit. … Tatar played in his fifth game this year for the Red Wings and the 14th of his career. … The Blues recalled Allen from Peoria on Tuesday. … St. Louis has power-play goals in each of its last seven games. … Seven-time Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom got a standing ovation when he was shown on the videoboards, attending his first game since retiring last summer. … Detroit had beaten the Blues four games in a row at home.