Blues gain edge on Kings in opener

News-DemocratMay 1, 2013 

— In the span of less than a minute Tuesday, the St. Louis Blues went from trying to kill off a four-minute high sticking penalty to celebrating Alexander Steen's game-winning short-handed goal.

Kings goalie Jonathan Quick was incredible most of the night, stopping 40 of 42 shots. But Quick lost the puck to Steen behind the net in overtime and Steen quickly scored with 6: 34 remaining in overtime to give the Blues a 2-1 victory.

"I think I just was fortunate it hit my stick," said Steen, who used speed to charge Quick to force the turnover. "I just got on, so I figured once the puck went down I had fresh legs and I figured I'd try him. I just got fortunate behind the net and it hit my stick and went in."

Steen's power-play goal in the first period stood up for most of the night, but the Kings tied it 1-1 with 31.6 seconds remaining in regulation on a goal by Justin Williams.

"They were just throwing bodies at the net and it went off our D-man's stick and went top corner," said Blues goalie Brian Elliott, who has won seven straight home games and allowed one goal in seven of his last eight games. "Anything can happen. The guys just stayed positive and tried to stick to our game plan."

Williams' shot snuck its way past Elliott on the short side to force overtime.

Blues captain David Backes said the dramatic turnaround was an example of perseverance and a little bit of luck, especially since the Blues spent most of the night watching Quick rob them time and time again with saves of every possible variety.

They also were in the process of trying to kill off a four-minute high-sticking penalty on defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.

"We're trying up our boots to kill a four-minute penalty," said Backes, who had just come off the ice from his penalty kill shift when Steen scored. "I was on the bench just trying to catch my wind and then I looked up and Steener was putting it into the net. We were ready to battle through whatever adversity came our way. It was kind of a headsy play by him and we'll take it any way we can get it."

The Blues now take a 1-0 lead into Game 2 in the best-of-seven series, which is set for 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Scottrade Center.

"It's one game," Backes said, although the Kings went 4-0 in overtime games last season on the way to winning the Stanley Cup. "It's not the series and we've got to start at 0-0 again Thursday. It feels good, there's no question about it You want to take care of business in your own ink.

"But we can't get too high on ourselves or figure we've accomplished something after 60 minutes or 70 minutes of hockey. That's a team that's resilient over there; they've showed it through four rounds and they hoisted the Stanley Cup last year."

The Blues had lost their previous three overtime playoff games and hadn't won one since April 19, 2001 (3-2 over San Jose).

Only the strong goaltending of Quick kept the Kings from behind down by more than a goal as he cam up big tie and time again.

The Blues outshot the Kings 36-19 through regulation and 42-29 overall.

Launching a relentless assault on the net and Quick, the Blues funneled everything directly at the 2012 Conn Smythe Award winner from the opening faceoff.

The Blues' fourth line helped set the early emotional tone when Ryan Reaves dished out rink-rattling hits on Jordan Nolan and Brad Richardson.

With the Blues on a power play, defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk had time to take a big windup and rocketed a puck on net. Steen was there to clean up the rebound at the 9:05 mark and the Blues led 1-0.

The Blues were 0-for-17 on the power play in their playoff loss to the Kings last season and were 2-for-11 this season while dropping all three regular-season games to them.

Last season, the Blues also scored the first goal of the playoff series against the Kings but never led again. In the entire four-game sweep, the Blues were on top for a total of 7 minutes, 42 seconds.

Quick had several big stops in the first period, robbing Steen and Roman Polak in close. Elliott also had stopped Carter following a Blues turnover in the corner,

Carter, who led the Kings with 26 goals during the regular season, hit the goalpost near the end of the first period on a shot that glanced off of Elliott before hitting metal and finally being covered.

The Blues began the night with an eight-game losing streak to the Kings, who swept them out of the second round of the playoffs last spring.

Backes rang a shot off the crossbar in the second period and Quick made sparkling stops to rob Jaden Schwartz and T.J. Oshie.

Elliott was 11-2 in April with a 1.28 goals-against average and .947 save percentage, also collecting three straight road shutouts.

"I thought Ells was exceptional for us," Steen said. "He made some big saves in OT to keep it alive."

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, nsanders@bnd.com or on Twitter @NormSanders

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