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Blues edge Blackhawks to snap two-game skid

by Louie Korac

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues apparently rid themselves of a bacterial infection that had affected them in the past week, and some shoddy play that recently had plagued them went out the door with it.

The Blues faced adversity early in their game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday, but unlike in recent games, they were able to overcome it.

Ryan Reaves and Dmitrij Jaskin scored 1:45 apart in the final two minutes of the second period to lead the Blues to a 3-2 victory against the Blackhawks at Scottrade Center.

The win ended the Blues' two-game slide.

"We took some steps today," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We took some sound steps. We gave up really one obviously odd-man rush, and I thought for the first two periods after we got through the 5-on-3, 5-on-4 [in the first minute of the game], we had probably 36-37 really good minutes.

"We took some steps today that look a little like our team, look like the way we can play. We've got something to build on now. We've got a foundation that we can draw information from that we can show the players. We've got some stuff that we can work with now."

Jaden Schwartz also scored a goal, Brian Elliott stopped 22 shots, and Alex Pietrangelo had two assists for the Blues, who improved to 3-3-1.

St. Louis has hit a stretch of early-season games against formidable opponents. Nobody brings out more energy from the Blues than the Blackhawks.

"Right when you get up from your pregame nap, you're raring to go and get in here," Elliott said of facing Chicago.

The Blackhawks (4-2-1), who got a goal and an assist from Patrick Sharp and a goal from Kris Versteeg, dropped their second straight game in regulation after earning points in five straight to open the season. Antti Raanta made 28 saves.

"The parity in our division is so close that it comes down to one or two plays a game," Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith said. "We all need to be better."

With the game tied 1-1, Steve Ott picked the puck off the stick of Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival at the Chicago blue line and came back toward the net before feeding Maxim Lapierre in the slot. Raanta stopped Lapierre's shot, but Reaves somehow knocked in the rebound with 1:51 left in the second period. The goal was upheld by video review.

"I know they didn't play much, but I was happy with [Lapierre's] line," Hitchcock said.

"I don't know what camera angle they had, but thanks to whoever put that camera there," Blues captain David Backes said.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville didn't agree.

"I disagreed with the interpretation of how they described what happened," Quenneville said. "We've given up some late goals in periods, couple turnovers in middle of ice that didn’t need to happen."

Raanta thought he was interfered with on Reaves’ goal.

"I don’t know how the rules are, but I made a save and [Reaves] came and pushed me into the net, and then the puck came over the line," Raanta said. "I think that was a little bit like goalie interference or something. You can’t say anything, but of course that was a little bit like a bad call by the refs. It’s hard to say what they were seeing."

The Blues fed off the emotion of gaining the lead, and Jaskin, who was recalled from the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League on Friday, corralled Pietrangelo's shot from the right boards and beat Raanta with a wrist shot from the slot with five seconds left in the period to make it 3-1.

Jaskin has two career goals, both against Chicago.

"You've just got to feel it. It's all it is," Jaskin said. "I told you it's just a game, I love it. Just love the game.

"I was there probably two seconds on the ice. It was a good job by the other guys and [Jaden Schwartz] had a good change. I just tried to watch [Pietrangelo] shooting it and I go to the net."

The Blues got off to another inauspicious start. Jay Bouwmeester (hooking) and Barret Jackman (roughing) were in the penalty box less than a minute into the game, giving Chicago 1:22 with a 5-on-3 advantage.

The Blackhawks needed only eight seconds, though. Sharp scored on a one-timer from close range 1:02 into the game off a snappy Patrick Kane pass from the right half-wall to the far post to give Chicago a 1-0 lead.

It was the third straight game the Blues surrendered a goal within the first two minutes. They fell behind 1-0 to the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday 1:37 into that game, and on Thursday, the Vancouver Canucks scored 41 seconds in to grab a 1-0 lead.

"Tough start, but we talked about overcoming adversity here the last couple days," Pietrangelo said. "When you're down 1-0 in the first five minutes, that's adversity and I thought we did a fantastic job of overcoming that and kept our heads on straight and played great from that point on."

Schwartz scored his team-leading fifth goal after the Blues were able to keep an errant clear in the zone. Schwartz skated into the slot and fired a shot through Raanta's five-hole with David Backes screening the Blackhawks goalie. The goal at 12:15 of the first period tied it 1-1.

It was the Blues' first even-strength goal in 151:20 and their first goal scored with Elliott in net in 170:05.

Versteeg got the Blackhawks back in the game early in the third, taking a feed from Sharp and beating Elliott from the slot at 2:37 to cut the Blues lead to 3-2.

The Blackhawks lost Daniel Carcillo with what appeared to be a right-knee injury after a hip check from T.J. Oshie with 13:54 left in the game. Carcillo appeared to hyperextend his knee after reaching for a puck.

"Probably be out for a bit," Quenneville said of Carcillo. "We'll probably know more the next day or so, but he's not playing [Sunday]."

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