The St. Louis Blues almost let a 4-1 lead slip away late in the game, but Alexander Steen shut the door to hang out 5-3 against the Florida Panthers.
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
In net, made the start and stopped 29 of 32 shots face to earn his 13th win on the season.
Jaden Schwartz made his first start since Oct. 20 after suffering a fractured ankle. He didn’t skip a beat as the winger tallied a goal and an assist with a +2.
Following the victory, the Blues improve to 31-17-9. They are now four points back on the Dallas Stars for second place in the Central Division, but the Stars have a pair of games at hand. The Blues are also five points back on the Chicago Blackhawks, but St. Louis holds one game at hand.
The Blues began the first period hot outshooting the Panthers 5-0 in the opening minutes of play. But, the Panthers fired back recording the next five shots before eventually Derek MacKenzie put one home to make it 1-0.
With the game still 1-0, David Backes entered the zone on a two-on-one and ripped a shot under the shoulder of Roberto Luongo to tie the game with 7:34 left in the period.
Later in the first period, Colton Parayko took a shot on net that Luongo stopped right in front, but Jaden Schwartz picked up the rebound, circled the crease and beat Luongo to make it 2-1 with under six minutes left in the first period.
But, the Blues weren’t done yet.
With the clock winding down in the first period and the Blues on the power play, Paul Stastny sent an attempt to the front of the net from behind the goal line. The puck deflected back to Robby Fabbri. With Luongo looking to the other side unaware the puck deflected back to Fabbri, Fabbri wristed a shot into the net making it 3-1.
In the second period, Schwartz kept making plays in the second period as he found Jay Bouwmeester who took a shot on net. The puck bounced around in front as Vladamir Tarasenko put it home making it 4-1.
Later in the second period, the Panthers began their comeback.
Jonathan Huberdeau delayed and found Aaron Ekblad at the point. Ekblad wound up and fired a shot through a screen past Elliott to make it 4-2 with 9:16 left in the period.
The Panthers kept the momentum up in the third as Jaromir Jagr weaved into the zone and passed to Brian Campbell as Campbell drifted toward the goal line. Campbell saw Huberdeau setting up back door and found him with a perfect pass for the easy put in making it 4-3 with 9:13 left in the third period.
St. Louis crushed the comeback as Steen put the game away with a nifty backhand up over the right shoulder of Luongo.
Next up for the Blues will be a test against the red-hot Tampa Bay Lightning on the road. The game is set for Sunday, Feb. 14 at 5 p.m.
Arch City Sports/KOMU-TV