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Steen saves Blues again against Hurricanes

by Louie Korac

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues knew all they had to do was hit the reset button. But the shock of squandering a two-goal lead by allowing two shorthanded goals made it tougher than usual.

So who else would the Blues turn to other than their go-to scorer?

Alexander Steen has been on a personal-record pace in goals and points, and the Blues left wing came through again Saturday.

Steen's NHL-leading 17th goal of the season snapped a 2-2 tie and helped the Blues finish a 4-0-1 homestand with a 4-2 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes at Scottrade Center.

Steen also had an assist, enabling him to pass Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby for the NHL points lead with 26, and extended his NHL-best point streak to 13 games. Steen has 13 goals and five assists in that stretch.

The Blues were cruising late in the second period, leading 2-0 on goals by Roman Polak and David Backes, and were going on their third power play when the momentum and mood in the building changed.

After scoring the shorthanded goals, the Hurricanes were back in the game. The Blues didn't panic.

"We came in, we knew what we had to do in the third," Steen said. "I thought we did a good job of resetting and regrouping."

Polak had his first two-point game since March 30, 2011; T.J. Oshie added an empty-netter; and Jay Bouwmeester had two assists for the Blues (13-2-3), who are 8-1-1 in their past 10 games and 5-0-1 in the past six. Brian Elliott stopped 18 shots for his third straight win.

The Blues are 6-1-0 against the Eastern Conference this season. They are 30-9-5 against the East since 2010-11, the best interconference record in the NHL. The Blues matched their 1990-91 team with their 13th win in the first 18 games of a season.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock won his 618th game, passing Jacques Lemaire into sole possession of ninth place all-time.

The Hurricanes, who were 4-0-1 in their past five, got the shorthanded goals from Eric Staal and Nathan Gerbe. Justin Peters stopped 28 shots and lost in regulation for the first time in six games.

Steen took a stretch pass from Polak as the Hurricanes (8-8-4) were in the middle of a line change and went in alone on Peters. Steen snapped a shot from the right circle stick side 6:20 into the third period to break the 2-2 tie.

"Big goal ... big-time player, big goal," Hitchcock said of Steen. "We needed that goal right there. We dialed it up.

"We really had a good start to the third period. We really dialed it up and I thought we took control of the hockey game again."

Steen said, "It was a good heads-up play by both Roman and [Ian Cole] to get the puck quick. They were in the middle of a change. ... I found a hole."

The Hurricanes scored twice shorthanded in 57 seconds of the second period to get life.

Staal's breakaway goal after the Blues lost the puck at the blue line with 4:23 remaining in the second period made it 2-1, then Elliott came out to play a puck off the boards and lost it to Riley Nash, who fed Gerbe for the equalizer with 3:27 left in the period.

"My bad on trying to get it up to the guys and [Nash] knocked it down with the stick," Elliott said. "It's a great feeling for me that [Steen] goes down there and gets that. ... [Steen] came through like he has all year. Just a gritty effort to come back and solidify that win."

It's the first time since Oct. 8, 1992 that the Blues allowed shorthanded goals on the same power play. That night, Russ Courtnall and Gaetan Duchesne scored for the Minnesota North Stars.

"Great effort to get us back in the game," Peters said. "They were taking it to us pretty good, but we got some great individual efforts.

"It stung getting scored on in the third. [Steen] came down and made a good shot."

Polak's third goal of the season (one off his career-high set in 2009-10) was the 10th straight game the Blues scored first and 15th time in 18 games. Polak took Chris Stewart's pass and fired a wrist shot from the high slot past Peters on the short side 9:25 into the second.

Steen's assist marked the first time since Pierre Turgeon did so in 1999-2000 that a Blues player had such a streak; Turgeon's reached 15 games.

Backes scored his second goal in as many games and fifth point in three games when he took Brenden Morrow's feed from behind the net. Morrow caught Backes coming in off the bench and gave the Blues captain a sharp-angle pass that Backes was able to one-time off a short hop into the near side with 8:24 left to give the Blues a 2-0 lead.

Oshie scored a power-play, empty-net goal with 43.3 seconds remaining.

After seeing Carolina tie it, the Blues simply regrouped, then headed on the road to play the Washington Capitals on Sunday.

"I think we were unlucky in the first period not to be up a lot," Hitchcock said. "We got the 2-0 lead, our power play's been good for us all year. We made a couple mistakes on entries. We didn't get it deep and they took advantage of them.

"It was the momentum that we needed to play with on the power play that we didn't take advantage of, we tried to make plays in delicate areas and turned it over and they were off to the track meet."

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