ST. LOUIS — Like a portable first-aid kit, Vladimir Sobotka is always within reach to provide service for the St. Louis Blues.
Sobotka's versatility and talent allow Blues coach Ken Hitchcock to use him at wing or center and to remedy whatever is ailiing on just about any of the team's four forward lines.
The 25-year-old from the Czech Republic is one of the team's top penalty killers and checkers, but because of injuries has also been seeing power-play time.
All he did Saturday night in his 300th NHL game was play his normal, gritty, in-your-face style against one of the league's best teams, crushing Ducks star Bobby Ryan in an open-ice collision with one of his team-leading four hits.
Then there was the pass from Anaheim's Teemu Selanne that Sobotka picked off in mid-air near his own blue line before setting up Chris Stewart's game-winning goal 45 seconds into overtime.
"He's a great all-around player," Stewart said.
Sobotka has six goals and seven points in his last eight games, including a March 9 hat trick against San Jose. He also is becoming one of the team's best faceoff men, winning 10 or more in five of his last seven contests.
"Sobe played a heck of a hockey game. He had a major role today in the way we played," Hitchcock said. "We were a little bit under the siege in the third period, I thought their line did a great job in turning some momentum our way a bit."
The other forces helping drive the 16-10-2 Blues' momentum -- the team has won three in a row and five of six -- are rookie goalie Jake Allen and right winger Chris Stewart.
Stewart's goal Saturday gave him seven in the last seven games, during which time he's racked up 14 points. He is the Blues' top scorer with 14 goals and 28 points in 28 games, tied for 18th in the NHL scoring race.
Stewart also has 10 goals and 24 points in the last 18 games. Only Sidney Crosby (30 points), Chris Kunitz (25 points) and Jakub Voracek (25) have more points than Stewart during that span
Confidence is oozing from big power forward, who is just two points away from surpassing his scoring total from all of last season (15 goals, 30 points) despite having played 51 fewer games.
"I'd say (it's) one of my all-time highs," Stewart said when asked about his confidence level.
He also credited the Blues for turning things around despite the continued loss of some of their top players to injury. While they got rookie winger Vladimir Tarasenko back Saturday, T.J. Oshie (upper body) joined Andy McDonald (knee) on the sidelines while defenseman Alex Pietrangelo missed Saturday's game with the flu.
"It's great, guys have been dropping all year and guys have been stepping up," Stewart said. "Petro goes down with the flu and look at Ian Cole, he's been out the last four or five games and he steps up and has a great game for us.
"It's going to be scary when we do get healthy. We're going to get healthy at the right time of the year and we're a team to be reckoned with."
Also helping drive the surge is rookie goalie Jake Allen, rapidly becoming a phenomenon thanks to his 8-1 start and unflappable nature in net.
"If he keeps playing like this, we've got to keep playing him, Hitchcock said. "We're in playoff mode right now and we need all the points we can get."