Hawks continue to dive, fall to Blues 4-2

 

ST. LOUIS—The St. Louis Blues needed someone to move to the first line after Paul Kariya was hurt late in the first period. Alex Steen was the obvious choice. Steen had two goals and an assist and scored the go-ahead goal early in the third, helping the Blues keep alive faint playoff hopes and hand the slumping Blackhawks their seventh loss in nine games with a 4-2 victory Tuesday.Eric Brewer and Erik Johnson also scored, and Chris Mason thwarted the last of the Blackhawks’ three breakaways. The Blues have won three in a row at home, where they remain an NHL-worst 15-18-5, the biggest reason they’re six points out of the final Western Conference playoff spot with six games to go.The Blackhawks clinched a playoff spot a week ago and despite their recent woes are second in the West with 99 points. They had a similar skid late last season before making it to the conference finals.It wasn’t clear when or how Kariya was hurt, and Payne shed no light on the situation. Sharp and Marian Hossa scored in the first period for the Blackhawks, who have lost three in a row in regulation for the first time this season. Sharp scored on a breakaway and Hossa tapped in a rebound on his backhand after Jonathan Toews’ breakaway. Mason stopped Hossa’s bid for the go-ahead goal 1:25 into the third, and just over two minutes later Steen scored on a shot that deflected off goalie Antti Niemi’s glove and shoulder.Steen has a pair of two-goal games this month and four overall and leads the Blues with career highs of 23 goals and 46 points. He’d been scoreless the previous four games, but has 41 points the last 42 games and assisted on Johnson’s insurance goal midway through the period on a line with David Backes and T.J. Oshie.The Blackhawks are one point away from consecutive 100-point seasons for the first time since 1970-72.Brewer’s first goal in 17 games and seventh overall tied it at 2 early in the second period. The defenseman scored on a shot from the point that got through traffic.

NOTES—Oshie had an assist but is the only Blues player with two or more goals on the season with none against the Central division. … The Blackhawks have outshot opponents 66 times, including a 34-30 edge Tuesday, by far the most in the NHL. No other team had outshot their opponent more than 45 times. … Sharp has a five-game scoring streak with three goals and two assists. … Niemi has started five of the last six games ahead of slumping Cristobal Huet. …The Hawks were 0 for 2 on the power play and is 4 for 40 the last 11 games. … Blues enforcer Cam Janssen drew a game misconduct after punching Nick Boynton in the head while he was down in the second period, and he jousted with Ben Eager in the first.

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