ST. LOUIS -- Let's face it, it's been a tough few days.
Missouri couldn't hold a lead ... Rams couldn't score from the 1 ... Cardinals lost twice at home ...
If it wasn't for obstruction, we wouldn't have any luck at all.
And sure enough, the act of impeding progress came to the rescue again. This time, Alex Steen and the Blues took advantage to beat the Winnipeg Jets, 3-2,on Tuesday night in front of 15,287 at Scottrade Center.
With the score tied 2-2 and two minutes, 13 seconds to play, Winnipeg's Tobias Enstrom was penalized for interference -- hockey's version of obstruction . The Blues went on a power play and defenseman Jay Bouwmeester slid a pass to the red-hot Steen.
The veteran forward scored with 59.4 seconds remaining to secure the victory. The goal was Steen's NHL-leading 11th, a backhand shot that hit the post and caromed in off goaltender Ondrej Pavelec. Steen has 11 goals on 31 shots. The next best scorer, Alex Ovechkin, has 10 goals on 78 shots.
"It's everywhere on the ice right now where he's good," said Steen's linemate, T.J. Oshie. "It's fun to play with a guy like that."
That said, it was Oshie who drew the penalty and battled to keep possession in the zone on the decisive play. So as far as Steen's concerned, it's right back at ya, fella.
"Obviously you've got to talk about Osh on that play too," said Steen, who has a career best goal-scoring streak of five games. "First to draw the penalty and to get the puck stopped in their zone so that we have a chance to get it back.
"Thanks to Osh that we got in that situation. That's the way he's been playing. He's been playing really well."
With the victory, the Blues completed the initial 10-game segment of a new season with a 7-1-2 mark. They also avenged their most perplexing performance of that segment, an overtime-shootout loss at Winnipeg on Oct. 18.
On that occasion, the Blues carried a 3-1 lead into the deep stages of the game and had the Jets under their thumb. But Winnipeg scored twice with less than seven minutes remaining, then won the subsequent shootout. Instead of an "A" for outstanding, the Blues took an "incomplete" grade to contemplate during a retreat in Charleston, S.C.
For coach Ken Hitchcock, that night was a prime example of what happens in the NHL when a team has control and takes it foot off the gas.
"I think for us to get to the next level, that's where we want to get to, we want to contest every puck, offensively and defensively," Hitchcock said. "We show real flashes of that. We'll do it for 40 minutes, and then we'll just kind of play."
On this night, control was a little less obvious. There were both flashes and contested pucks. There also were disruptive penalties and self-destructive moments -- such as the second short-handed goal the Blues have allowed in two games.
The game also included the Blues losing a lead in the third period, just like before. But this time, the Blues didn't "just kind of play." They just kind of won.
"I think (Kevin Shattenkirk) said something right before we were walking out for the third period here tonight," Oshie said. "That was a tough one (earlier in Winnipeg) to give up with the week off, having that taste in your mouth. But it was good to get the win this time in regulation."
The Blues outshot the visitors 10-4 in the first period and got the first goal. The play developed with Shattenkirk head-manning a pass to Ryan Reeves. The burly right winger moved across the Winnipeg line and fired. Pavelec put his blocker on the shot but deflected it to Brenden Morrow on the left side. Morrow buried the rebound for his second goal and a 1-0 lead with 13:24 still to play.
Moments later, Morrow was an accomplice in a penalty spree that gave the Jets a two-man advantage. Derek Roy picked up an interference penalty while Morrow took exception to a hit on Alex Pietrangelo. Both Blues forwards went to the box.
Winnipeg took advantage late in the power play, as Blake Wheeler whacked a rebound into an open side. The score was 1-1 with 8:40 to play, and the circumstances had Hitchcock befuddled.
"What turned the momentum of the game around was the 5-on-3," Hitchcock said. "We were playing great. We were rolling four lines and everybody was in the game and then ... they got momentum off of being able to play their players on that 5-on-3. That changed the game completely around."
Over the next two periods, the dominant team was less obvious. Meanwhile, Blues netminder Jaroslav Halak came to the forefront, making several outstanding saves. One of the most important came with 54 seconds remaining in the second, as Wheeler broke in alone.
With the last 20 minutes up for grabs, the Blues reached first. Less than five minutes into the final stanza, Oshie made a terrific play to get Pavelec's attention, then slid a pass to Pietrangelo. The defenseman rifled his second goal of the season into the top of the net, and the Blues led 2-1.
But with 9:33 remaining, and the Blues on a power play, Oshie lost the puck at the blue line to Andrew Ladd. The Winnipeg captain outmaneuvered Oshie down the ice and slid the puck to Bryan Little, who converted the short-handed chance to tie things 2-2.
With less than five minutes to play, Halak made a clutch save on Michael Frolik. Then came the penalty to Enstrom and, with help from the Obstruction Fairy, Steen delivered.
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