Blues 4, Blackhawks 2
The St. Louis Blues needed someone to move to the first line after Paul Kariya was hurt late in the first period. Alex Steen was the obvious choice.
Steen had two goals and an assist and scored the go-ahead goal early in the third, helping the Blues keep alive faint playoff hopes and hand the slumping Chicago Blackhawks their seventh loss in nine games with a 4-2 victory Tuesday night.
``It didn't take very long to come up with that one,'' coach Davis Payne said. ``You look down and here's a guy who's going. He seems to make every line kind of get a little more jump and a little more zone time.''
Eric Brewer and Erik Johnson also scored, and Chris Mason thwarted the last of the Blackhawks' three breakaways. The Blues have won three in a row at home, where they remain an NHL-worst 15-18-5, the biggest reason they're six points out of the final Western Conference playoff spot with six games to go.
``Obviously, we need help,'' Steen said. ``But we do our part, and we're giving ourselves a chance.''
The Blackhawks clinched a playoff spot a week ago and despite their recent woes are second in the West with 99 points. They had a similar skid late last season before making it to the conference finals.
``It might sound stupid to someone on the outside looking in to say we're confident, but we are,'' said forward Patrick Sharp, who thought he had been shooting on Blues backup Ty Conklin instead of Mason. ``We're going to keep battling.''
It wasn't clear when or how Kariya was hurt, and Payne shed no light on the situation.
``I haven't seen the mechanism, either,'' Payne said. ``I don't know if it happened on contact or in skating motion, but right now it's lower body, day to day.''
Sharp and Marian Hossa scored in the first period for Chicago, which has lost three in a row in regulation for the first time this season. Sharp scored on a breakaway and Hossa tapped in a rebound on his backhand after Jonathan Toews' breakaway. Mason stopped Hossa's bid for the go-ahead goal 1:25 into the third, and just over two minutes later Steen scored on a shot that deflected off goalie Antti Niemi's glove and shoulder.
``Looking at it in the right frame of mind is important, trying to be positive,'' coach Joel Quenneville said. ``If there is anything positive, it's that the pace of our game was quicker and better, more effective.
``We have to capture some of that confidence and energy in our play.''
Steen has a pair of two-goal games this month and four overall and leads the Blues with career highs of 23 goals and 46 points. He'd been scoreless the previous four games, but has 41 points the last 42 games and assisted on Johnson's insurance goal midway through the period on a line with David Backes and T.J. Oshie.
``He's probably our MVP,'' Johnson said. ``I think he's been our most consistent worker every night.''
The Blackhawks are one point away from consecutive 100-point seasons for the first time since 1970-72.
Brewer's first goal in 17 games and seventh overall tied it at 2 early in the second period. The defenseman scored on a shot from the point that got through traffic.
NOTES: Oshie had an assist but is the only Blues player with two or more goals on the season with none against the Central division. ... The Blackhawks have outshot opponents 66 times, including a 34-30 edge Tuesday, by far the most in the NHL. No other team had outshot their opponent more than 45 times. ... Sharp has a five-game scoring streak with three goals and two assists. ... Niemi has started five of the last six games ahead of slumping Cristobal Huet. ... Chicago was 0 for 2 on the power play and is 4 for 40 the last 11 games. ... Blues enforcer Cam Janssen drew a game misconduct after punching Nick Boynton in the head while he was down in the second period, and he jousted with Ben Eager in the first.