ST. LOUIS -- Alex Steen
needed just a split second to formulate his plan.
The St. Louis center, who possesses the hardest shot on the team, scored on a rocket-like blast with 21.1 seconds left to lift the Blues to a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks
on Wednesday at the Scottrade Center.
The Blues (3-0-0) won their first three games for just the third time in the 47-year history of the franchise. The other seasons were 1969-70 and 1993-94.
The defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks (1-1-1) lost for the first time in regulation following a 3-2 shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning
Faced with a three-on-one break in the closing minute of a tie game, Steen calmly found a small hole and drilled the puck behind Chicago goalie Corey Crawford
for the game-winner.
"I picked a spot. I wanted to go low and hard," Steen said. "It felt good."
Steen took a pass from Alex Pietrangelo and broke in along with T.J. Oshie and David Backes
. He used Oshie as a decoy before letting loose with the well-placed blast.
"It's not really how hard it is, it's more where you put it," Steen said. "Once I let it go, I thought, "this one has a chance."
Crawford made 31 saves. Like St. Louis goalie Jaroslav Halak
, he came up with numerous big stops. Halak made 26 saves, including several key stops down the stretch, to improve to 3-0.
The late tally helped the Blues record their most impressive triumph of the season. They beat the Nashville Predators
and Florida Panthers, two non-playoff teams from last season, by a combined 11-2 in the first two games.
"Playing Chicago is always a big game," Halak said. "I think our guys came up big and played consistently for 60 minutes. That was the key tonight. Stick to the game plan and don't give up."
The Blackhawks gave up two goals on odd-man rushes. Vladimir Tarasenko scored the first goal of the night at 15:44 of the first period on a 2-on-1.
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville was disappointed at his team's defensive play down the stretch, although he liked the overall effort.
"We played a good game," he said, "but you can't make a mistake like that."
Backes temporarily put the Blues in front 2-1 on a power-play goal at 8:37 of the second period. Backes deflected in a long-range shot by Pietrangelo.
Chicago answered with a man-advantage tally of its own by Jonathan Toews just 39 seconds later. The goal came 15 seconds after Jaden Schwartz was sent off for hooking.
The Blackhawks tied the game less than two minutes after Tarasenko's goal on a power-play tally by Patrick Kane, who has scored in all three games this season. He converted off a scramble in front of the net seven seconds after Maxim Lapierre was whistled for boarding.
The Blues killed off each of their previous 11 penalties this season. Kane's goal broke a scoreless string of 111:52 by Halak.
The loss was the second close setback in a row for the Blackhawks.
"It's frustrating," Toews said. "We made some small mistakes late in the game, which is when we normally take over."
The traditional rivals kicked off the first of five meetings this season in style. St. Louis' Chris Stewart and Chicago's Sheldon Brookbank received fighting majors just 1:59 into the contest.
NOTES: A crowd was just 16,565 with the St. Louis Cardinals-Pittsburgh Pirates game starting at the same time one mile down the street. The Blues have not sold out any of their three home games. ... The largest roar from the crowd before the Steen goal came with just under three minute left when Matt Adams' two-run homer was shown on the scoreboard. ... Blackhawks D Brent Seabrook played in his 600th NHL game. ...Chicago is 11-9-4 against St. Louis over the past four-plus seasons. ... The game was the 287th meeting between the teams, the most for the Blues against any other club. ... St. Louis begins the campaign with five successive home games for the second time in franchise history. The Blues started the 2002-03 season with a 3-1-1 mark in five home contests. ... Halak stopped 47 of 49 shots in the first two games this season. ... Crawford is 9-2-2 against the Blues. ... The Blues had 10 players account for their first 11 goals for the first time team history.
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