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Steen does it again as Blues edge 'Canes

The SportsXchange

ST. LOUIS -- After St. Louis Blues' defenseman Roman Polak got the puck to left winger Alexander Steen streaking toward the net in the third period Saturday night, he started celebrating -- even before Steen shot the puck.

That's how much confidence Steen's teammates have in him right now, and once again, it was justified.

Steen buried the puck past Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Justin Peters 6:20 into the third period to break a 2-2 tie in what ended up a 4-2 St. Louis victory after an empty-net goal from right winger T.J. Oshie with 44 seconds to play.

"All of a sudden I saw him in the middle of the ice wide open so why not get it to him?" Polak said. "I got to the bench and I was already celebrating because I knew it was going in."

It was Steen's league-leading 17th goal of the season and increased his point total to 26 in the Blues' 18 games, also tops in the league. Steen, who assisted on Polak's first period goal, earned a point in 13 consecutive games, the longest streak by a Blues' player since Pierre Turgeon scored in 15 straight in the 1999-2000 season.

The goal allowed Steen to make up for one of the few mistakes he made this season, a turnover which led to the first of two short-handed goals by the Hurricanes, on the same minor penalty, which wiped out a 2-0 St. Louis lead.

"It was a good heads up play by Roman and Ian Cole," Steen said. "I found a hole."

"(That was a) big-time goal, big-time player," St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We needed that right there. We really dialed it up at the start of the third period and I thought took control of the hockey game again."

Steen's turnover, and one by goalie Brian Elliott which the Hurricanes also turned into a goal, marked the first time the Blues allowed two short-handed goals on the same minor penalty since 1992. The two goals came 57 seconds apart while the Hurricanes were serving a minor penalty for having too many men on the ice.

"We made a couple of mistakes on entrys and didn't get it deep and they took advantage of it," said Hitchcock. "We tried to make plays in delicate areas and turned it over and they were off to the track meet."

The Hurricanes were happy to get the two goals, from center Eric Staal and winger Nathan Gerbe, to tie the game, but were disappointed in the final result.

"We got caught on a bad change and a guy that's pretty hot right now," Staal said. "We don't want him to have that type of look like that and he made it count."

"We battled back and unfortunately the third goal was a big blow for us," Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said. "We knew it was going to be a tough one, playing a big power team and we knew we were going to have our hands full."

After a scoreless first period, the Blues took the 2-0 lead on the goal by Polak, on a perfect feed from right winger Chris Stewart at 9:25, and center David Backes, off a pass from left winger Brenden Morrow behind the net 2:11 later.

Polak's goal marked the 10th consecutive game in which the Blues scored the first goal and the 15th time they scored first in their 18 games this season.

NOTES: St. Louis LW Chris Porter cleared waivers on Saturday and was assigned to the Chicago Wolves of the AHL. ... Three members of the Russian Hockey Federation were at the game, apparently watching Blues RW Vladimir Tarasenko and Carolina RW Alexander Semin as candidates for the Russian Olympic team. ... The Hurricanes had to travel to St. Louis after beating Anaheim 3-2 in a shootout at home on Friday night. G Justin Peters was back in the nets for the second night in a row, making his 10th consecutive start. ... The Blues open a three-game trip in Washington on Sunday night and also will play at Buffalo on Tuesday and at Boston on Thursday before returning home. G Jaroslav Halak is expected to start against the Capitals. ... The Hurricanes return home to host Boston on Monday night.
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