TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock reached an impressive milestone, joining some heady company.
Alexander Steen had a goal and two assists to help Hitchcock move into sole possession of fourth place on the NHL wins list in the Blues’ 6-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.
“You can’t get a lot of wins unless you’ve got good players,” Hitchcock said.
Hitchcock’s 693rd regular-season win broke a tie with Dick Irvin. The Blues coach only trails Joel Quenneville (739), Al Arbour (782) and Scotty Bowman (1,244), who scouted the game as a Chicago senior adviser.
“He’s got experience,” Bowman said. “He served his time. He’s demanding, which I think you have to be. Today’s era, he gets his best players to play important roles.”
T.J. Oshie, Dmitrij Jaskin, David Backes, Paul Stastny and Vladimir Tarasenko also scored for the Blues, who have won nine of 11.
Tampa Bay got goals from Tyler Johnson, Brett Connolly and Steven Stamkos.
“We played a strong team,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “We weren’t ready from the start. Big picture, we got out-chanced, out-everything.”
Steen assisted on both St. Louis first-period goals and scored one of three Blues goals during a 3:08 span in the second for a 5-1 lead.
“We talked about it before … they’re a team that comes out pretty quick at home,” Steen said. “I thought we did a good job. I think the big thing is, we were moving to get open.”
Steen made 3-1 with an in-close redirection after Backes stole the puck from Stamkos and sent it toward the net. After Backes scored 1:56 later off Oshie’s backhand, between-the-legs pass from behind the net, Stastny put the Blues up 5-1 on a rebound goal with 4:37 left in the second.
“It’s coming to me in the slot,” Backes said of Oshie’s pass. “I was just thinking not to screw it up.”
Oshie opened the scoring 1:50 into the game by beating Ben Bishop from the slot following a pass from Steen, who had stolen the puck in the St. Louis zone.
St. Louis went ahead 2-0 when Steen set up Jaskin’s power-play breakaway goal with a long-range pass at three minutes later.
The Blues outshot Tampa Bay 17-6 in the first.
“I thought the first period was the best we played on the road for a long time,” Hitchcock said.
Johnson got the Lightning within 2-1 when he beat Brian Elliott from just below the left circle during a power play midway in the second period.
Connolly scored late in the second, and Stamkos got his 29th goal 6 1-2 minutes into the third.
Tarasenko had a late empty-netter for his 29th goal.
Notes: Elliott made 26 saves. … Bishop was pulled after allowing five goals on 34 shots in two periods, replaced by Andrei Vasilevskiy. … Johnson joined Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov as 20-goal scorers for the Lightning. … Oshie stopped a seven-game goal drought. … Tampa Bay C Cedric Paquette missed his second straight game (upper body). … The list of hockey elite attending the game as scouts, team officials and broadcasters included Bowman, Jim Devellano, Steve Yzerman, Phil Esposito, Martin Brodeur, Brett Hull, Bob Gainey and Bob Plager.
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