Blues hoping hard-fought win will put struggles in the past

From staff and wire reportsDecember 11, 2013 

St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock definitely enjoyed the hard work that led to his team's game-winning goal Wednesday by defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.

Shattenkirk's power-play goal late in the third period helped the Blues pick up a crucial road win with a 2-1 victory over Winnipeg.

The Blues entered the game having lost three of their last four, but now are 10-0-1 against Central Division opponents.

"It was a seeing-eye shot but, if you look at the shift, we outfought them for three pucks just to get that opportunity, which is what happened for the whole third period, which was really impressive," Hitchcock said.

The Blues' win over the Jets could get them going in the right direction. The Blues return home Thursday to face the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"As the game wore on, our confidence came back to fight for pucks and to battle," Hitchcock said. "I thought the debris from what happened here in the last week or so started to eliminate and we just started to get our spirit back."

Bryan Little scored for the Jets, who outshot the Blues 8-2 in the first period.

It looked as if Shattenkirk's shot may have glanced off Little, among others, on the way into the Jets' net.

"It was disappointing, just because we worked to get back in the game and tied it up and then they get one that bounces off a couple of things and goes in ... right at the end of the game," said Little, Winnipeg's leading scorer with 13 goals and 28 points.

"To lose that way is definitely frustrating."

Blues winger Alexander Steen opened the scoring in his hometown of Winnipeg. Steen is eighth in the NHL scoring race with 21 goals and 33 points in 29 games. Only Washington's Alex Ovechkin has more goals with 26.

He was behind the Winnipeg goal line midway between the net and the boards at 4:44 when he slid a puck behind Ondrej Pavelec that banked off the Jets goalie to put the Blues ahead 1-0.

Pavelec was focusing on the players in front of the net rather than the Blues' leading scorer to his right. It was Steen's 21st goal of the season.

"It was a hard-fought game today, really tight net, both teams clogged neutral zones and D-zones," said Steen, who was born in Winnipeg and is the son of original Jet Thomas Steen, now a city councilman in his adopted hometown. "Both goalies played really well, it was a good game today, a fun game."

As for his shot, he shrugged it off.

"I don't know. I try it every now and then in practice," Steen said. "I've tried it a couple of times in games."

Jets coach Claude Noel was disappointed with the loss but not unhappy with the way his team played.

"I thought the game was a game that was chess-match played game really," he said. "Both teams were being patient, playing kind of the same way, knowing that one goal or two goals could win it.

"I thought we played a pretty good game other than the fact that we didn't finish the game the right way. They scored a seeing-eye power-play goal, what can you do?"

Little evened things up just three minutes into the third period as he won a faceoff and then snapped a pass from linemate Andrew Ladd past Brian Elliott on a power play, thanks to a tripping call against Vladimir Sobotka.

Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien was sent off with just over three minutes left in the game for hooking, which gave Shattenkirk his chance to score his third goal of the season.

The Jets are still the only team in the Central that has managed to beat the Blues this season, 4-3 in a shootout on Oct. 18.

Scouting the Maple Leafs

Toronto will be without captain and defenseman Dion Phaneuf, who was suspended for two games for a hit from behind Sunday on Boston's Kevan Miller.

It was the Leafs' fourth suspension this season.

Heading into Wednesday's games against the Kings, Toronto's top scorers were Phil Kessel (16 goals, 29 points), James van Riemsdyk (13 goals, 25 points) and Nazem Kadri (9 goals, 20 points).

Perhaps this visit will give Toronto fans a chance to revisit the 2008 trade that sent Steen and defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo to the Blues for winger Lee Stempniak.

Steen was Toronto's first-round pick (24th overall) in the 2002 draft.

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