Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Steen, special teams leads Blues to 5-2 win over Flames

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues have harped on the fact that they feel like their special teams has been in a rut and it's a matter of time before they get back on track.

It was a step in the right direction on Wednesday against the Calgary Flames, and considering the Blues' slow start with puck management, it was the specialty teams that got the ball rolling, and then Alexander Steen got on the board with a four-point night in a 5-2 victory against the Flames before 17,227 at Scottrade Center.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Forward Alexander Steen had a goal and three assists to help the Blues to a
5-2 victory over the Calgary Flames at home Wednesday.

"I've been happy with the way I've been playing," Steen said. "I was a little bit frustrated I haven't been able to contribute offensively. Tonight's one of those nights where I just happened to be on the right side of the goals. "

Steen had a goal and three assists, his first four-point game since March 27 against Arizona (four points) to lead St. Louis (7-2-1) to their fourth straight game with at last a point (3-0-1).

"Not a bad night. What was it, one and three tonight," Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo said. "I think a lot of the stuff that (Steen) does goes unnoticed. His contributions on both sides of the puck is stuff that I think a lot of people don't see. I think guys who play with him every day really appreciate what he does in terms of defensive side. Obviously we know what he can do on the offensive side."

"It was tough having 'Steener' have that injury," Blues coach Mike Yeo said. "I thought that he looked really good in training camp. I feel like he's a step quicker this year. I think he did a heck of a job in the summer coming in really good shape and you could tell the training, the focus that he had in the summer, he was a motivated hockey player."

Paul Stastny had a goal and an assist, and Jaden Schwartz, Pietrangelo and Joel Edmundson scored for the Blues, and Jake Allen made 23 saves.

The power play, which came into the game 0-for-17 dating to Oct. 12 at the Florida Panthers, was 2-for-3 for St. Louis, and the penalty kill was 2-for-2.

"I think we simplified things a little bit more," Steen said of the power play. "We were more direct in the what that we played, and I think we were a step quicker than we have been too. Those things contributed to us getting more goals and obviously more chances. 

"It was good, even the ones we didn't score. There was a lot of momentum pushing forward, so it was a good step in the right direction."

It was the second straight night the Flames allowed two power-play goals. Calgary overcame two man-advantage goals scored by the Nashville Predators on Tuesday in a 3-2 shootout victory.

"If you keep losing the specialty games, you're going to put yourself (in a bad spot)," Flames coach Glen Gulutzan said. "Two nights in a row we've given up 2-for-3 on the power play. When you're playing back-to-back (games), your penalty kill has to be better. Our penalty kill quite frankly doesn't look anything near what it should and we've got to clean that area up because tonight it put us in a hole and we couldn't get out of it."

Mikael Backlund scored twice, and Eddie Lack made 24 saves for the Flames (5-5-0). Lack made his first start of the season after Mike Smith started the first nine games.

Backlund gave the Flames a 1-0 lead at 3:58 of the first period off a pass from Matthew Tkachuk, but Steen tied it with his first of the season at 17:27 after a turnover by Travis Hamonic.

Stastny picked off Hamonic's outlet pass out of the Calgary zone, got the puck to Vladimir Sobotka, who patiently waited to slot Steen with the pass before he beat Lack top shelf from a tight angle late in the first period.

Schwartz gave the Blues a 2-1 lead at 4:07 of the second, ending St. Louis' streak of 18 straight power-play opportunities without a goal.

Persistence paid off on Schwartz's goal after Tarasenko first hit the post, but he stayed with the puck, collected it in the slot before feeding Schwartz at the back post for a backhand to give the Blues the lead for good.

Pietrangelo scored another power-play goal and gave the Blues a 3-1 lead at 6:53 from the right circle, but Backlund's second of the game came after Allen fell behind the net at 13:15 to make it 3-2.

"We felt like Vegas (a 3-2 overtime loss Saturday), we were a little bit sloppy but aside from that, we were getting a lot of shots," Pietrangelo said of the power play. "A couple games we had getting 10, 15 shots. They were hitting sticks or shin pads. It was just a matter of time before we got the bounces and tonight, we did that."
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo points skyward in the middle of three
Calgary players after scoring in a 5-2 victory over the Flames.

"Certainly we went out with more purpose shooting, with more purpose of getting more net-front," Yeo said of the man advantage. "We had one that we almost tipped in there. You look at that second goal and 'Steener,' that's not even his position to be there, but that's what I said before, everyone's going to take a turn. When it's your turn to be there, plays materialize and they develop and obviously 'Petro' scores that goal because of that."

Allen was able to make a key save off Johnny Gaudreau's breakaway at 8:18 of the second period to preserve a 3-1 lead.

Stastny restored the Blues' two-goal lead at 16:28 of the third period after getting a feed from Steen, who initially wired a slap shot from the neutral zone off Flames defenseman Mark Giordano. Edmundson's empty-net goal made it 5-2 with 43.9 seconds remaining.

"They played last night. Mentally, we knew they were going to be sharp," Pietrangelo said. "We've got to find a way, especially on four days' rest to be a little sharper early on. Once we got into the game and once we got into our groove, I think we were good."

* NOTES -- Stastny has 57 points (24 goals, 33 assists) in 49 games against the Flames. ... Pietrangelo's goal puts him atop the League-leader points list with 12. ... Tkachuk had two assists in his return to his hometown. ... The Blues' win against Lack was their first in seven tries against the Flames netminder. ... The Blues are one of two teams (Tampa Bay) to remain unbeaten on home ice. The Blues are 3-0-0; the Lightning are 5-0-0.

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