Steen in right place at right time for Blues in Game 1

News-DemocratMay 1, 2013 

— While Alexander Steen tried to downplay his overtime heroics Tuesday that won Game 1 for the St. Louis Blues, teammate Andy McDonald put Steen's improbable play into perspective.

With the Blues killing off a four-minute power play, Steen came at Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick with speed and forced a turnover.

Steen had the presence of mind to not only force the turnover, but corral the puck and slide it into the net for a 2-1 overtime win and one of the biggest playoff goals in recent Blues history.

Blues broadcaster Kelly Chase got the puck and made sure to give it to Steen after the game.

"Steener's such a well-rounded player," McDonald said after Steen scored the NHL's first short-handed overtime game-winner in the playoffs since Edmonton's Fernando Pisani for did it in Game 5 of the 2006 Stanley Cup finals. "His ability to play one-on-one and protect the puck, get on top of the puck and strip people...he does so many things so well and he did it again right there.

"He seems to see the game a little bit quicker than a lot of other guys in and in that situation he maybe surprised Quick a little bit with what he was going to do."

Steen continued to insist Wednesday the entire play doesn't happen without a bit of luck.

"It just hit the stick and I got lucky because it bounced," Steen said. "It couldn't have bounced better for me. I didn't have to like pick it out of my feet or his, it just kind of popped out. I just felt like I had a gas in the tank and made a read and got a little lucky behind the net."

Steen goal was his second of the night, giving him his first multi-goal this season. He also gave the Blues their first overtime playoff victory since a double OT win over Colorado on May 16. 2001.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock also marveled at Steen's hockey IQ.

"He re-routed himself on the forecheck," Hitchcock said. "It's just such an emotional swing. You're down, you're figuring out who's going to kill a four-minute penalty and the next thing's the game over.

"That's what leaders do. He has really stepped up in the last month on this hockey club. He's really stepped up his game and he's stepped up his personality on the team."

Ryan Reaves, hit machine

An accurate Twitter post Wednesday pointed out that Blues winger Ryan Reaves had more hits Tuesday night against the Kings (nine) than the St. Louis Cardinals did in their win over Cincinnati (seven).

A physical series was expected and neither side disappointed as the Kings had 41 hits to the Blues' 38.

However, Reeves and linemates Adam Cracknell (five hits) and Chris Porter (four his) helped set the tone by continually pounding everyone in a Kings sweater.

Reaves nailed two Kings in his first shift on his way to a season-high nine hits.

"I was a little out position, kind of running around like an idiot for a couple seconds," Reaves joked. "I think I had to get the crowd into it early and send that message...I kind of took it on myself to send that message to that team that it's going to be physical. It's going to be a battle and if they want to stay in it, it's going to be tough."

The crowd and the Blues seemed to thrive on Reaves' physical play.

"I think the game kind of got amped up after that," he said. "It was a physical game, all four lines were playing real physical and I think we got them on their toes for most of the game."

It was a similar script of how the Kings swept the Blues in four games last season.

"Last year they did it to us, they came out and all four lines were physical," Reaves said. "They pushed us out and we didn't' really have a response for them. This year it's got to be the opposite.

"We've got to come out and push them out first and when they push back, I think we've got to push harder."

Hitchcock's decision to sit rookie Vladimir Tarasenko to clear the way for T.J. Oshie's return helped lead to the fourth line sticking together.

The trio has been one of the best units for nearly a month.

"We're playing well," Reaves said. "We mesh well together and you look at the game (Tuesday) we did our job. We got pucks in deep and we played physical. I think we kind of got all their defensemen guessing whether they want to go back for pucks."

Oshie returns

Blues winger T.J. Oshie returned to the lineup for Game 1 after a 15-game absence because of an ankle injury. Oshie played just over 18 minutes had one shot and a plus-minus rating of minus-1.

"He got caught watching a little bit, but for a first game back after a month to walk into something like that's not fun," was Hitchcock's assessment. "I thought he did fine until he got tired. Then he started playing with his eyes maybe. I think he recognized that."

Hitchcock had Oshie playing with Patrik Berglund and David Perron for most of the night.

"He'll be better in Game 2," Hitchcock said. "He's one of those guys for us that we need to be better, and I think he will be as he gets more accustomed. But that's a heck of a game to have to walk into after a month layoff."

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, or on Twitter @NormSanders

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