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Steen shows he can do more than play defense

Forward has two goals, helps hold Stars' top line without a point in Game 3 win

by Louie Korac / Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Blues left wing Alexander Steen has arguably drawn some of the toughest defensive assignments in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Steen and linemates Paul Stastny and Troy Brouwer have their hands full during this Western Conference Second Round series with the Dallas Stars. Their job is to hound and shadow Stars captain Jamie Benn, Patrick Sharp and Cody Eakin; though at times, they'll also go up against a line that features Jason Spezza, who finished the regular season with 33 goals.

That's after pestering Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round, holding Toews and Kane to a combined one goal in St. Louis' seven-game win in the first round.

Steen's offensive numbers weren't huge entering Tuesday; he had a goal and three assists in St. Louis' first nine playoff games. But Steen, arguably the Blues' best all-around forward, was able to contribute offensively in Game 3, scoring two goals and helping to hold Benn and Co. without a point in a 6-1 victory that gave the Blues a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series.

Game 4 is Thursday at Scottrade Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

"It's nice to chip in, but we've had that mentality as a group," Steen said. "We have our roles here going into the playoffs and the No. 1 thing is getting wins."

Steen was plus-2 and played 18:38, taking five shots on goal. For a change, his teammates were able to put him in positions to score. Steen's goal 57 seconds after the Stars took a 1-0 lead in the first period was the first of the Blues' six unanswered goals.

Video: DAL@STL, Gm3: Steen nets a pair in Game 3

"I think we're doing a good job of staying focused, sticking with our plan," Steen said. "As soon as something like that happens, it's always revert back to our structure, keep going, same page all the time, not get off it. It's good."

Steen draws the toughest assignments because Blues coach Ken Hitchcock feels most comfortable putting him on the ice against the opposition's most talented players.

"The reward's there, but he's our best player," Hitchcock said of Steen. "Alex is our best player. So I want him playing against top players. He loves that challenge, he loves that focus, he just rises to the occasion on it. He's a heck of a hockey player.

"He does a lot of things underrated that people don't notice, coaches notice, little things that don't go unnoticed by us. He's one of the most complete players in the League. I think if he would have been healthy, he would have had a real shot at the Selke [Trophy] this year."

Steen's second goal of the game, a wrist shot that he powered through Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen, capped off the Blues' best second period of the playoffs and made it 5-1.

"It's always nice when your teammates get goals," said right wing Vladimir Tarasenko, who had a goal and two assists. "You need to be happy for each other."

Steen won't take credit for the defensive job he does; he's most satisfied when the team as a whole can execute effectively, which is what the Blues were able to do to near-perfection against the high-flying Stars.

"I think we pressured them a lot better," Steen said. "As a team we didn't like the turnovers in the beginning of the game. We were a little sloppy with the puck. After we got that goal scored on us, I think we reverted back to our structure. It's been one of our big positives this season has been reverting back to what we know works. We started building momentum and got a quick one there to tie it up at one. Otherwise, we would have just kept building on our plan."

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