Steen caps his big day with a pair of goals in Blues' win

ST. LOUIS -- With two quick goals Thursday, Alexander Steen nearly got one for each year of his three-year, $17.4 million contract extension.December 19, 2013 

— Steen scored twice in the first eight minutes and the Blues got a solid, balanced effort to hammer the Montreal Canadiens 5-1 before a crowd of 17,189 at Scottrade Center.

"Yeah, that's one heck of a day," said Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. "It would have been nice if he would have got the third one there to top it off. But the guy gets a new contract and goes out and scores two goals in the first period. ... It just shows the type of guy he is.

"We're going to expect more of that I guess, but that was one heck of a game for him."

Ironically, Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong ended Steen's contract extension news conference Thursday morning with this surprisingly prescient quote:

"One more question for Alexander, then I'm going to play the ogre and he's going to have to get back to work and earn his money."

Steen apparently took the words of his boss to heart, scoring goals No. 23 and No. 24 this season to match his career high.

"It's a good day," was about the extent of Steen's discussion about his own performance.

He chose to highlight the team's better start and more consistent effort.

"I think that's the big positive from tonight, we stuck with it and just played the way we should be playing," Steen said.

Chris Stewart, Jaden Schwartz and Maxim Lapierre also scored for the Blues (23-7-4) while former Canadiens goaltender Jaroslav Halak stopped 25 of 26 shots.

Halak improved to 4-0 against his former team, allowing only four goals in four games while stopping 96 of 100 shots.

The Blues are 48-0-1 in their last 49 home games when scoring three or more goals. They are 6-0-1 in their past seven games against the Canadiens, but are only 31-70-23 in the all-time series.

Steen began celebrating his contract extension early in the first period.

On a 3-on-1 break, Steen took a pass from T.J. Oshie and beat Canadiens goalie Carey Price to the far side for a short-handed goal. Steen began the rush by winning a face-off at the other end.

Not long after leaving the penalty box, Steen made it 2-0 with a goal after taking a drop pass from Derek Roy.

The 24th goal tied Steen's previous career high, which came in 68 games. Steen needed only 34 games to hit the mark this time.

It also was his fifth two-goal game this season and Steen trails only Washington star Alex Ovechkin (28) for the NHL goals lead.

That extra money on his paycheck won't change Steen, according to Pietrangelo.

"It doesn't faze him, he came into the room like nothing even happened today," Pietrangelo said. "With (captain David) Backes being out, he's kind of stepped up here and been the voice in the room."

Price surrendered three goals on the Blues' first eight shots, the third one coming from the slot by Stewart. Stewart got his 10th goal on a set-up feed from Brenden Morrow behind the net, with Morrow collecting his 300th career assist.

After going 10 games without a goal to start the season, Stewart now has 10 goals and five in his last five games.

Price heated up in the second period after a slow start and stood tall under a barrage of Blues shots early in the period. At one point the Blues held a 10-2 edge in shots in the period, but it was Montreal scoring the only goal.

Brendan Gallagher took a rebound off the shoulder of Halak, then batted it past him in midair to make it 3-1.

It was Gallagher's 10th goal this season.

The Blues came up empty on their first six power plays, including a four-minute double minor during the first period.

With Montreal (21-13-3) pushing hard to get within a goal in the third period, Schwartz restored the three-goal cushion when he took a pass from Oshie and beat Price with a wrist shot.

It was Schwartz's ninth goal, but in his last 13 games he has six goals and 13 points.

Lapierre's goal late in the third period was his first in 18 games and came against the team he entered the NHL with.

"Our whole team was hard on the puck," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We needed to be. We needed to get back to that game and start paying the price and start getting physically involved. That's what we did."

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

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