ST. LOUIS – Already down a goal, the St. Louis Blues appeared to be in big trouble in the first period when Chris Stewart was whistled for a five-minute major and a game misconduct for checking from behind.
Blues goalie Brian Elliott and the rest of the penalty killers stepped up big then, and several more times in a 2-1 St. Louis victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night. Detroit was 0 for 6 on the power play.
“I can’t say enough about that effort,” captain David Backes said. “A five-minute major you have to kill against a Detroit power play can be a death sentence.”
Alex Steen scored unassisted for the go-ahead goal in the second period, and the Blues held the Red Wings to single-digit shots in all three periods. Detroit got five shots after Stewart was ejected for checking Nicklas Kronwall into the boards near the Red Wings bench. Kronwall was assisted off the ice but returned in the second period.
Even though Kronwall said he was fine after the game, Stewart could face a suspension.
“It was a tough call on Stewie, but we gained a lot of momentum on that kill,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “It wasn’t a body check, it was more of a push. Whatever they do we’ll have to live with.”
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said he hadn’t seen the replay, and knew soon after the play that Kronwall would be back.
Matt D’Agostini added a power-play goal for the Blues, who ended the Red Wings’ four-game winning streak and halted goalie Jimmy Howard’s five-game winning streak against St. Louis. Detroit is 0 for 16 on the power play the last three games. They are 2 for 24 on road advantages.
“They did to us what we do to lots of teams,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “They outchanged us, they caught us in a half-ice game, outplayed us.
“Our power play let us down when Kronwall got hit.”
Howard made 35 saves in his first loss against the Blues since a 4-3 shootout defeat on Feb. 9, 2010, and Drew Miller scored the game’s first goal. Detroit totalled 22 shots, but only four in the third.
The Blues are 3-0-1 since Hitchcock replaced Davis Payne as coach. They have scored a power-play goal in three of the four games after totalling just three power-play goals in the first 13 games.
The second period was the Blues’ best, with a 19-9 shots advantage and Steen’s team-leading seventh goal at 17:19. Steen picked off a blind backhand clearing effort by Johan Franzen and beat Howard with a wrist shot from the left circle.
Earlier in the game, Howard foiled another turnover with a stop on Steen.
“I had two good scoring chances, and one went in,” Steen said. “I wasn’t there in his vision and I kind of figured that’s where his open man was, and I got lucky.”
Miller tipped in a pass across the crease from Justin Abdelkader at 6:02 of the first, beating Brian Elliott. D’Agostini tied it with his fifth of the season on a power play late in the first.
Just 12 seconds after Jonathan Ericsson was whistled for interference, D’Agostini got a loose puck in the slot after Patrik Berglund’s shot was blocked by the defence.
NOTES: New Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, wearing a Blues jersey with his No. 22, dropped a ceremonial first puck with captains Nicklas Lidstrom of Detroit and St. Louis’ David Backes at centre ice. … Attendance of 19,150 was the Blues’ eighth sellout of the season. … Hockey Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman, due to be inducted into the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame on Wednesday night, watched the game from the press box. … Detroit’s goal was initially credited to Miller, then switched to Abdelkader between periods on the assumption the puck deflected off a defender’s skate. It was changed back to Miller after the game.