CHICAGO (AP) -Lee Stempniak had extended playing time last season with the struggling St. Louis Blues. The experience is paying off this season.
Stempniak scored twice and assisted on Petr Cajanek's tiebreaking goal early in the third period to help St. Louis beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 Saturday night.
As a rookie, Stempniak got ample ice time in 57 games with the Blues, who finished with the NHL's worst record for the first time in team history.
The forward posted his first three-point game in the NHL on Saturday and improved his offensive totals to five goals and three assists in eight games.
"You want to be contributing when the team wins and right now, I happen to be contributing - scoring goals getting a couple of points" Stempniak said. "If you don't, you have to come in, play physical, play well defensively and just make sure you're a factor in every game.
"I definitely feel so much more comfortable this year," he added. "I played a lot for a rookie last year, especially after the trade deadline and we lost a couple of guys. All the experiences I had last year are helping me this year."
Cajanek converted a rebound of Stempniak's shot from the slot 2:57 into the third to snap a 3-3 tie.
"I was lucky in the right spot at the right time," Cajanek said. "We shot it high and I was in a good spot there."
Bill Guerin also scored for the Blues, rallied after falling behind 2-0 early in the first period. After Chicago scored goals 13 seconds apart to take the lead, St. Louis coach Mike Kitchen called a timeout.
"He settled us down a bit." Stempniak said. "He just told us it's going to be how we respond. Those two goals are up there no matter what. We can either pack it in or fight through the adversity."
Radim Vrbata and Michal Handzus each had a goal and an assist for Chicago, which played without right wing Martin Havlat. Havlat, who entered Saturday as the NHL's scoring leader with 13 points, will miss two to three weeks after spraining his right ankle Friday night at Dallas.
"Obviously he's a world-class player and it's not going to be easy to replace him" Blackhawks coach Trent Yawney said. "The fortunate thing about a good team is that everyone can contribute."
Rene Bourque also scored for the Blackhawks, who lost for the second straight night after taking a two-goal lead.
"We didn't close them out the way we should have and it cost us," said Patrick Sharp, who set up Bourque's goal.
"Welcome to the new NHL," Yawney added. "You've got to dig a little deeper and get a little simpler."
St. Louis' Curtis Sanford made 24 saves, and Chicago's Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 25 shots.
Bourque and Vrbata scored 13 seconds apart early in the first period to give the Blackhawks a 2-0 lead at 6:41.
Stempniak cut it to 2-1 with 7:25 left in the first, and his power-play goal 16 seconds into the second tied the score.
Guerin gave St. Louis a 3-2 lead at 10:01 of the period, knocking in a rebound of Doug Weight's shot from the point after Khabibulin failed to cover up the puck.
Handzus' power-play goal - a goalmouth deflection of Adrian Aucoin's drive from the left point - with 5:10 left in the second tied it at 3.
Notes: The Blackhawks recalled F Brandon Bochenski and D Danny Richmond from Norfolk of the AHL. Both played against the Blues on Saturday, with Bochenski taking Havlat's place on a line with Vrbata and Michal Handzus. ... Havlat, acquired from Ottawa with F Bryan Smolinski in July, missed 58 games last season with the Senators because of a shoulder injury. ... D Jassen Cullimore and Fs Matt Keith and Denis Arkhipov were Chicago's healthy scratches Saturday. ... St. Louis D Jay McKee missed the game because of a fractured bone in his right hand. He was hurt Friday night against Vancouver.
|Rene Bourque (3) ASST: Patrick Sharp (2), Martin Lapointe (2)|
1 - 0 CHI
|Radim Vrbata (3) ASST: Michal Handzus (5), Lasse Kukkonen (4)|
2 - 0 CHI
|Lee Stempniak (4) ASST: Jamie Rivers (1), Doug Weight (1)|
2 - 1 CHI
|PPG - Lee Stempniak (5) ASST: Petr Cajanek (4)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Bill Guerin (3) ASST: Doug Weight (2), Martin Rucinsky (3)|
3 - 2 STL
|PPG - Michal Handzus (3) ASST: Bryan Smolinski (5), Adrian Aucoin (3)|
3 - 3 Tie
|Petr Cajanek (2) ASST: Lee Stempniak (3), Keith Tkachuk (7)|
4 - 3 STL
|Reed Low Roughing against Dan Hinote|
|Dan Hinote Diving against Reed Low|
|Eric Brewer Tripping against Brandon Bochenski|
|Patrick Sharp Hooking|
|Patrick Sharp Holding against Dallas Drake|
|Roman Polak Too many men/ice - bench|
|Matt Walker Fighting (maj) against Reed Low|
|Reed Low Fighting (maj) against Matt Walker|
|Martin Lapointe Holding the stick against Bryce Salvador|
|Bill Guerin Tripping against Brent Seabrook|
|Martin Rucinsky Hi-sticking against Michal Handzus|
|Lasse Kukkonen Interference on goalkeeper against Curtis Sanford|
|Jamie Rivers Holding the stick against Lasse Kukkonen|