PITTSBURGH (AP) — A draining road trip ended with a little redemption and one pretty goal for the St. Louis Blues.
Robert Bortuzzo keyed a two-goal rally against his former team, and Alexander Steen’s deft redirect off a feed from Zbynek Michalek — himself a former Penguin — sent St. Louis to a 3-2 overtime victory at Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.
The Central Division-leading Blues stopped a three-game losing streak and finished a 10-day, six-game swing through western Canada and points east with three wins and eight points in all.
One brilliant dart to the net by Steen provided the winner. The forward battled for the puck in the corner, and then slipped it across the ice to Michalek at the right point before beating Pittsburgh defenseman Ben Lovejoy to the middle. The timing was perfect. Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury had no chance as St. Louis’ 35th and final shot of the night slipped by him.
“We almost made eye contact, so I knew it was coming and it was right down on my stick,” Steen said. “It was a great play by (Michalek).”
Jake Allen stopped 22 shots for St. Louis, which received unexpected offensive contributions from two grinders who began the season with Pittsburgh.
The Penguins traded Marcel Goc to the Blues in January for Maxim Lapierre and shipped Bortuzzo to St. Louis at the trade deadline earlier this month. Bortuzzo and Goc combined for just six goals in 168 career games with the Penguins. They scored for St. Louis during a 2:36-span in the second period to tie the game.
“My goal, a lot of credit goes to the forwards getting to the net,” Bortuzzo said. “Marc is a fantastic goalie. It’s a good feeling if you can contribute against your former squad.”
Blake Comeau and Steve Downie scored for Pittsburgh. Nick Spaling added two assists in the Penguins’ fifth loss in six games.
Finding the back of the net continues to be a problem. Pittsburgh played its fifth straight game without Evgeni Malkin and fourth straight without Patric Hornqvist, both out indefinitely with undisclosed injuries. The Penguins have found the back of the net just seven times during their six-game slump.
“There are some things that we did well, and some things we need to clean up,” Comeau said. “We got the one point, but definitely we wanted that second one.”
Pittsburgh remained two points behind the New York Islanders in the race for second in the Metropolitan Division.
The Penguins decided to go with seven defensemen rather than the usual six after recalling rookie Derrick Pouliot from the minors. The plan lasted all of five minutes.
Christian Ehrhoff, who has struggled to stay healthy all season — and missed Saturday’s win over Arizona after being a late pregame scratch — smacked against the boards in the corner behind the Pittsburgh net following a collision with Vladimir Tarasenko. Ehrhoff, who has already missed 24 games with various issues, did not return and coach Mike Johnston had no immediate update on Ehrhoff’s status.
The teams slogged through 25 minutes of tight-checking hockey before the Penguins’ sputtering offense briefly came to life.
Daniel Winnik emerged from the penalty box just in time to start a break that ended with Comeau slipping it through Allen’s legs for his 16th goal of the season 8:41 into the second. Downie doubled Pittsburgh’s lead 17 seconds later following a steal at the point by Spaling, who fed Downie in front. The puck caromed off the back of a surprised Allen’s pads and into the net.
The momentum didn’t last. Bortuzzo ended a frantic sequence in which bodies piled up in front of Fleury by powering a slap shot through traffic 14:52 into the second. Goc pounced on a loose puck in the slot and flipped it by a screened Fleury to tie it at 17:24.
“Two greasy goals and a nice one to win it,” Allen said. “To be able to finish 3-1-2 on this trip, when you look back on it at the end of the season it could be big.”
NOTES: The Blues improved to 14-7 in overtime games this season. Pittsburgh is 9-11 when pushed past three periods. … St. Louis D Carl Gunnarsson missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury. … The Penguins honored Hall of Fame play-by-play man Mike Lange during the game. Lange is celebrating his 40th year with the franchise. … The Penguins host Arizona on Saturday. … The Blues begin a three-game homestand on Saturday against Columbus.
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