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Steen scores again, Blues hold off Flames

by Louie Korac

ST. LOUIS -- The NHL's First Star of October has a pair of superstars in pursuit of his goal-scoring lead.

Alexander Steen took matters into his own hands Thursday night as his St. Louis Blues defeated the Calgary Flames 3-2 at Scottrade Center.

Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos both tied Steen's pace of 13 goals earlier in the night, but the Blues wing countered with his League-leading 14th to break the three-way tie. The goal turned out to be the game-winner.

"Everybody's talking about it, but quietly, he's the leader of our room," Blues defenseman Jordan Leopold said of Steen, who is the first player to score 14 goals in the team's first 14 games since 1990-91 when Brett Hull scored 16. "He works his butt off, and it's nice to see him get rewarded. Whatever he's doing, he's got to keep doing it."

Maxim Lapierre scored his first goal with the Blues, Vladimir Tarasenko also scored, and Leopold, a former Flames defenseman, picked up his first two points of the season. Brian Elliott collected his 100th career victory by stopping 18 shots to help the Blues win for the fifth time in six games and improve to 10-2-2 on the season.

The Blues nearly squandered a 3-0 lead against a Flames team (6-8-2) that scored twice in the third period to make it interesting.

"I think if we continued the way we were playing in the first period and then in the second, we should have really controlled that game mostly, but they battled back," Elliott said. "They're a hard-working team that doesn't quit. They got two on us, but we squeaked it out and battled that last couple minutes to get the win.

"When you get off to a lead, sometimes you tend to relax when you shouldn't. It's another lesson we can learn from. ... You have to be careful out there and have a little desperation."

Kevin Shattenkirk assisted on the Blues' second goal, giving him an assist in a career-best seventh straight game, the longest current run in the League. He has eight in that span.

Tim Jackman scored his first goal of the season, Mike Cammalleri scored his fifth and former Blues draft pick Reto Berra made 24 saves for Calgary. The Flames have dropped five of six. Calgary is 3-8-0 in its past 11 after a 3-0-2 start to the season, and saw its futility on the power play reach eight games (0-for-28) after going 0-for-6.

"Two different teams," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "The first period we were tentative. They carried the puck, they carried the play to us. We started on our heels. ... We made it tough on ourselves. [We gave up] a goal so early in the game ... but we never quit. I felt that we got back in the game, maybe too little, too late, but at least we showed lots of character and the guys never quit.

"If we could backtrack and replay that first 20 minutes, it might have been a different game," he added.

The Blues dominated the first period, outshooting the Flames 11-2 and getting goals from Tarasenko and Lapierre as the ice was skewed toward Berra for much of the period.

Tarasenko's first goal in nine games gave the Blues a 1-0 lead 3:01 into the game. The power-play goal broke the Blues' 0-for-8 slump with the man advantage. He followed up former Calgary defenseman Jay Bouwmeester's shot from the slot and buried the puck into the open side past Berra.

It was the sixth straight game in which the Blues scored the first goal and 11th time in 14 overall. They've now won nine of those games.

Lapierre was able to position himself in front of Berra and redirect Leopold's shot from the left boards 10:12 into the game to give the Blues a 2-0 lead.

"It was a slow start for me," Lapierre said. "I played four games and three weeks off because of the (five-game) suspension (for an illegal hit on Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle on Oct. 15). I felt like I had two training camps. I feel like my legs are coming back slowly and I think tonight is more of the player I am that we saw in the beginning.

"I just wanted to keep it simple. Just screen the goalie and that was a great play by [Leopold]."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock liked his team's play early, then noticed a drop-off after the Blues started taking what he called "unnecessary penalties."

"The first period was terrific," Hitchcock said. "We did a lot of really good things. We played exactly the way we wanted to. We had rush-attack chances, our power play looked good. Everything we needed to do, we did in the first period, and then we took those penalties and it took us out of rhythm and allowed their better players to play on easy ice. They ended up exiting the zone and then we ended up in a little bit of a prevent game. We weren't really in any trouble in the game, but you don't like seeing penalties we took today 200 feet from your net. When you've got something like that going, you want to hope that the players keep building on it.

"I would say they were unnecessary penalties, some of them were ... penalties you can't afford to take if you want to be a really good team. You can't afford to take those, so that's something we're going to have to learn."

The Blues extended the lead to 3-0 when Steen was able to take T.J. Oshie's centering feed and beat Berra in tight with a backhand 5:55 into the second period.

"It was a great play," Steen said. "We seemed to, especially the first half of that game, we were finding each other pretty good, making small give-and-goes in tight spaces.

"We were just managing the puck well. We were making plays when we needed to. We were getting it deep when we needed to. We were coming out of our zone clean, quick, fast, with a lot of pace, and that sort of got slower as the game progressed. We started getting longer and longer on our shifts. That's what happens. We ended up winning the hockey game. We're not happy with our third period, so we'll tidy it up. It's a win."

Jackman got the Flames on the board when he finished off Shane O'Brien's shot from the point. Elliott made the initial save, but Jackman was in the slot and buried the rebound high glove side 4:41 into the third period.

Jackman's goal snapped Elliott's shutout streak at 111:35.

The Flames were pressing late, and Cammalleri finished off a shot from the right circle at 14:49 to make it a 3-2 game.

Chris Butler's shot from the left point was blocked by Adam Cracknell and caromed to Cammalleri in the right circle, who one-timed a high shot past Elliott.

"At some point, we were able to get some momentum ... a tale of two games," Cammalleri said. "That was quite noticeable that we didn't really push the play early.

"The whole moral victory thing is tough. Get on a plane, go play Colorado [Friday night]."

The Blues started their second five-game homestand of the season with a win, but they know they need to finish stronger with some good teams coming in, including the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.

"We had a good start, but you look at the last couple periods, we let off the gas a little bit and gave them a reason to get back in the hockey game," Leopold said. "We'll have to address that, but a win's a win and we'll take the points."

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