PITTSBURGH -- Three past Pittsburgh Penguins players haunted their former team Tuesday.
Robert Bortuzzo and Marcel Goc scored the first two goals, and Zbynek Michalek got an assist when Alexander Steen scored in overtime to give the Blues a 3-2 win against the Penguins at Consol Energy Center.
After a scoreless third period, Steen scored the Blues' third unanswered goal 35 seconds into overtime. He redirected Michalek’s slap shot past Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
"All our Pittsburgh guys had big nights tonight," Steen said. "[Michalek’s shot] was a huge play. We also made eye contact. It was right down on my stick. It was a great play by him."
St. Louis (46-21-7) leads the Nashville Predators by one point for first place in the Central Division. The Blues got eight of a possible 12 points during their six-game road trip.
"Even when it went into overtime, it was a positive trip for us," St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We battled hard. It wasn’t clean. The games were hard. It’s a desperate time for everybody. Points matter. Today we had a lot of good stuff in the game and then we had a series, a little bit in the third, and when they scored the two goals in the second, we were really playing in the second and then they scored the two goals.
"I was really proud we were able to come back and tie the game in the second period. These are hard games right now. There’s no easy ice. There are no scoring chances unless you earn them."
The Penguins (40-22-11) are six points ahead of the Ottawa Senators, who hold the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. Pittsburgh is two points behind the New York Islanders for second in the Metropolitan Division.
After Pittsburgh scored the first two goals 17 seconds apart midway through the second period, two former Penguins helped the Blues tie the score before intermission.
Penguins forward Blake Comeau scored with a wrist shot off of a pass Daniel Winnik wrapped around Blues defenseman Petteri Lindbohm at 8:41. Steve Downie scored while Comeau’s goal was being announced when he gathered a pass from Nick Spaling, spun around and snuck a shot under fallen St. Louis goalie Jake Allen.
"It’s kind of a letdown, I think," Fleury said. "We were playing pretty well and they got back in the game pretty quick. … It’s just disappointing."
The Penguins held the lead for about six minutes until Bortuzzo scored on a slap shot after Fleury fell backward making a save on a David Backes shot with 5:08 remaining. Bortuzzo was traded to St. Louis from Pittsburgh prior to the 2015 NHL Trade Deadline for defenseman Ian Cole.
"It was a good feeling," Bortuzzo said. "I want to contribute every night. It may not be a goal. Fortunately, it was tonight to kind of get it going there. I’m learning every day and trying to get better. If I can contribute in any way possible, I’m happy to do that."
Goc tied the game by sending a rebound back toward Fleury after he was knocked over by St. Louis forward Ryan Reaves crashing the net with 2:36 left. Bortuzzo and Goc scored six goals in 168 games played with the Penguins.
Pittsburgh was outplayed during a defensive first period, but a few impressive saves from Fleury helped the Penguins keep the game scoreless.
Fleury made a series of saves, starting on a wrist shot from Steen from the faceoff circle, at a little more than five minutes into the first. Backes attempted to smack Steen’s rebound behind Fleury but was denied by a pad save. Blues forward T.J. Oshie had one chance with Fleury scrambling but couldn’t get the puck on net.
Steen was stopped again when Fleury made a toe save on a tip-in attempt off of a feed from Backes with 6:43 remaining in the period.
Pittsburgh had three shots in the first and seemed to be in disarray after defenseman Christian Ehrhoff left the game after St. Louis forward Vladimir Tarasenko drove him into the boards 5:07 into the first. Ehrhoff has been in and out of the lineup three times in the past two months while attempting to recover from concussion-like symptoms.
The Penguins began the game with 11 forwards and seven defensemen, but Ehrhoff’s departure scrambled Pittsburgh’s lineup. Winnik joined Sidney Crosby and David Perron at left wing on the top line and Chris Kunitz moved to the second line alongside Brandon Sutter and Comeau.
The remaining Pittsburgh forwards continuously shuffled throughout the period, when the Penguins were outshot 7-3.
"Did I see some improvements in our game? For sure," Penguins coach Mike Johnston said. "We’re playing a top team a little bit shorthanded tonight and I thought that quite a few players actually had really good games tonight and they really picked up their game. They played at a playoff pace, but we still had four or five guys that need to pick up their compete level."