ST. LOUIS — Alexander Steen has a flair for the dramatic.
Steen's blast from the left wing with 21.1 seconds remaining Wednesday lifted the St. Louis Blues to a 3-2 victory over the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.
Steen was robbed earlier in the third period on a glove save by Corey Crawford and before that hit the goalpost in the second period. But with the game seemingly headed for overtime, he took a pass from Alex Pietrangelo and led a 3-on-1 rush before blasting a shot through Crawford for the game-winner.
"I kind of had to look around because I was almost a little surprised how alone we were on the rush," said Steen, who has the hardest shot on the team as well as a team-leading three goals in three games. "The defense pushed over to the other side. I don't know if I got all of it. When you let it go you kind of pick your spot and you kind of feel like this one has a chance. It's not really how hard it is, it's more where you put it."
Steen put it exactly where he needed to for the Blues to reach the 3-0 mark for the first time since 1993.
"He's a really competitive player with a high level of hockey IQ," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "I quite frankly think this is just a continuation of the way he played in the playoffs to be honest with you."
Pietrangelo sent the play the other way extremely quickly.
"We know their defense likes to come down and pinch on the puck, so as soon as I got it I knew I had to get it up," Pietrangelo said. "Steener gets the puck and he's full steam ahead. He had a similar shot earlier in the game, so I guess he put it in a different spot."
The Blues had outscored their first two opponents 11-2. They twice took leads, only to watch the Blackhawks answer quickly with power-play goals both times. Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak was sharp throughout, kicking out 26 of 28 shots. Halak's big pad save on Duncan Keith with 2:08 remaining kept things tied.
"It's a big win, that's for sure," Steen said. "It's a rival team. I don't think these teams care for each other too much so these are always nice wins, but it's game three and there's a long way to go."
Using the same lineup for the third straight game, the Blues took a while to gain some traction as the Blackhawks (1-1-1) came out flying from the opening puck drop.
Halak was forced to make several crucial stops early, including a glove save on Johnny Oduya and another save to thwart Patrick Sharp.
It didn't take long for the emotions to boil over between the rivals as Blues winger Chris Stewart dropped the gloves to fight Chicago's Sheldon Brookbank just a minute and 59 seconds into the game.
After Patrik Berglund picked off a pass from Chicago's Marian Hossa, Vladimir Tarasenko let loose with a laser-like wrist shot from the top of the right circle to give the Blues a 1-0 lead with 4:16 remaining in the first period.
It was a different kind of goal than Tarasenko's first this season, when he muscled his way in front to score against Florida.
"I think the goal he scored (against Florida) is a perfect example of what's going to make him great," Hitchcock said. "There was a goalie and two defensemen and he knocked over all three and put it in an empty net. That's the strength he has for a 21-year-old, he's incredibly strong and those are the goals that over time, we think he's going to score. He can muscle one, two or three players off the puck and put it in the net."
The momentum didn't last long as Patrick Kane's power-play goal tied it with 2:59 left in the period. Kane scored just seven seconds into the power play after Maxim Lapierre drew a boarding penalty.
That goal ended the Blues' 11-for-11 streak on the penalty kill this season.
Crawford robbed Blues center Derek Roy early in the second period, then Halak turned away Patrick Sharp on a breakaway.
After nearly taking the lead when Steen hit the goalpost, the Blues did it for real when David Backes deflected in a shot from the blue line by Pietrangelo for a power-play goal.
Patrik Berglund won the faceoff and T.J. Oshie got the puck to Pietrangelo, who picked up two assists Wednesday and has five in three games.
Chicago followed the same pattern as it did following the Blues' first goal, quickly collecting the equalizer just 39 seconds later.
Jonathan Toews scored the Hawks' second power-play goal of the night just 15 seconds after a hooking call on Blues winger Jaden Schwartz.
On the two Chicago goals, they needed seven seconds of power-play time on one and 15 seconds on the other.