Stewart continued his torrid scoring pace by scoring twice -- his team-leading 22nd and 23rd points -- as the Blues returned home from their longest trip of the season and downed the San Jose Sharks 4-2 Tuesday night at Scottrade Center.
It was the Blues' second win over the Sharks in four days and came with much more resistance, but Stewart is helping carry a team that right now is void of some key components due to injury. Add in the fact that Stewart, coming off an off-year in 2011-12, is playing for a contract this summer. Good things are helping him state his case.
"I got some fortunate bounces tonight," Stewart said. "... I'm not going to read too far into who I'm playing with. I think I've got chemistry with a few guys on the team. I'm just going to worry about myself, compete hard out there, going to the net. I've been getting some good bounces lately."
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock agreed.
"He's competing at a higher level," Hitchcock said. "Conditioning's one part, but he's just competing at a higher level.
"He was disappointed in his second period ... we were disappointed in his second period, and then he really stepped up in the third. He did a great job. When you compete and you have skill, you have success and that's exactly what he's doing."
David Perron and Chris Porter also scored goals, Barret Jackman collected two assists, and Jake Allen improved to 6-1-0 by making 39 saves. The 41 shots were a season-high allowed by the Blues, who overcame a 3-1 third-period deficit Saturday in San Jose and won 4-3 in overtime.
"We played with a lot of heart," said Hitchcock, whose team was playing its eighth game in 13 days. "We hit the wall. We knew we were going to hit the wall. We kind of thought it would be a little later, but we played a great first period ... one of the best first periods we've played and couldn't extend the lead. They came at us absolutely harder. They got a beat on us in the second period. ... Once we settled down and played in the third ... I thought we were really controlling and playing well."
"Our job is to win games," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "We didn't do that tonight, but I really liked the effort and I really liked the commitment level. I liked a lot of things about the game except the score at the end of the night. It's the loss that goes into the important column. It's not the effort and the commitment so that stings."
Allen also had a lot to do with that -- he faced 19 shots in the second period and 13 more in the third.
"He played a tremendous game," McLellan said of Allen, who also beat San Jose on Saturday. "Your goaltending has to do that for you throughout the season. He's got to be able to steal games. Our goaltender has done it for us. The good goalies come in and steal games and that's as simple as I can put it."
The Sharks did a lot of things right -- except get more goals.
"It's one of those games where we didn't get the two points, but it was probably one of our best games," center Scott Gomez. "We had all four lines going and it just happens. St. Louis did what they had to do at home, but we have to build off this one. We did a lot of good things. That happens in hockey."
Stewart scored his 10th of the season when he took a nifty touch pass from David Backes to spring him on a 2-on-1 with Jaden Schwartz. Stewart elected to fire a wrist shot from the right faceoff dot and beat Niemi to the far post with 6:18 left in the opening period for a 1-0 lead.
Joe Thornton had a chance to tie it for the Sharks, but he fired a breakaway snap shot wide of the left post following an errant Backes pass in the offensive zone that sprung the San Jose center free.
Moments later Perron had a chance to give the Blues a 2-0 lead but he also couldn't convert after going in along on Niemi -- the puck seemed to roll off his stick in the final minute of the first period.
The Blues did increase their lead to 2-0 when Patrik Berglund's cross-ice feed to Perron from a sharp angle caromed off Perron's skate and into the net at 10:39 of the second. The officials looked at the play and deemed there was no kicking motion -- ruling that while Perron did turn his skate in an effort to control the puck, he never pushed it towards the net. It was Perron's seventh point [three goals, four assists] in six games.
Burns got the Sharks back in it with his first of the season just 1:02 later, one-timing a shot from the high slot that squirted through Allen's pads to cut the deficit to 2-1.
But Porter's first of the season and ninth of his career with 6.8 seconds left gave the Blues a 3-1 lead after two periods. He slammed home a rebound from the left dot after Niemi kicked aside Jackman's shot from the right boards.
"They came pretty hard at us … they came hard all night," Porter said of the Sharks. "They're a desperate team and we knew we were going to get their best, so it ended up being a pretty big goal. At the time, I'm just trying to help the team win for sure."
Boyle cut the Blues' lead to 3-2 when he beat Allen with 6:28 remaining after Scott Nichol (holding) and Jackman (roughing) were sent off 67 seconds apart. The Sharks won the faceoff after Jackman's penalty and Boyle blasted a slap shot past Allen for his fourth of the season.
Stewart added his ninth point in five games and 19th point in 16 games by hitting the empty net with 1:16 remaining after the Sharks pulled Niemi for an extra attacker.
The Blues lost right wing T.J. Oshie to an upper-body injury midway through the game. Oshie connected on a hit against Burns 8:36 into the second period and immediately went to the bench. He did not return, and Hitchcock said afterwards the team will know more Wednesday.
|Chris Stewart (10) ASST: David Backes (14), Alex Pietrangelo (13)|
1 - 0 STL
|David Perron (9) ASST: Patrik Berglund (4)|
2 - 0 STL
|Brent Burns (1) ASST: Scott Gomez (4), Matt Irwin (3)|
2 - 1 STL
|Chris Porter (1) ASST: Barret Jackman (7)|
3 - 1 STL
|PPG - Dan Boyle (4) ASST: Patrick Marleau (7), Joe Thornton (20)|
3 - 2 STL
|EN - Chris Stewart (11) ASST: Barret Jackman (8)|
4 - 2 STL
|Scott Nichol Roughing against Andrew Desjardins|
|Andrew Desjardins Roughing against Scott Nichol|
|Andrew Desjardins Interference against Scott Nichol|
|Ryan Reaves Interference against Marc-Edouard Vlasic|
|Matt Irwin Interference against David Perron|
|Dan Boyle Hi-sticking against Alex Pietrangelo|
|Scott Nichol Holding against Tommy Wingels|
|Barret Jackman Boarding against Logan Couture|