St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock figured he couldn't lose Wednesday night.
Playing the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks at Scottrade Center was going to provide Hitchcock with answers he needed about his team, which came in with a record of 2-0.
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"I like it any time we play top teams," Hitchcock said. "You get a real good read on your team. We can't lose in this game. We're going to get information that we need. Whether it's good or bad, we're going to get it.
"We need that information. We think we're improving, but we need to get to another level. We need to not just talk what's needed, but we actually have to play in that atmosphere and see it."
In a playoff-like setting, the Blues got a goal from Alex Steen with 21.1 seconds to play for a 3-2 victory.
"Brutal loss," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville told reporters. "We've got to get that game to overtime. I don't know what we were thinking about.
"It was one of those plays, last minute of the period, you want to be out there and we'll take 1 (point) and maybe 2. Getting none was unacceptable. You can't make a mistake like that.
"Getting nothing was a huge 4-point swing. It was one play. We have to be smarter, that's all."
Defenseman Brent Seabrook got caught in the offensive zone while the Blues headed the other way on a 3-on-1. Steen hammered a slap shot through Corey Crawford from the left circle as the seconds ticked down.
"They came out strong, but we got better as the game went along," Steen said. "Jaro was probably the difference for us tonight."
Jaro would be goalie Jaroslav Halak, who came up big time after time to best Crawford. Halak finished with 26 saves. "Everybody was ready for this game and pumped up," he said.
Last season the Hawks didn't lose for the first time until the 25th game. They're now 1-1-1.
The Blues took a 1-0 lead at 15:44 of the first period when Vladimir Tarasenko beat Crawford with a high snap shot following a Marian Hossa turnover in the neutral zone.
But a little more than a minute after the goal, the Blues' Maxim Lapierre took a poor penalty when he creamed Andrew Shaw from behind into the boards.
The Hawks cashed in immediately on the power play when Patrick Kane got his third goal of the season. Patrick Sharp partially fanned on a shot from the slot and the puck went right to Kane to the left of the net.
The goalies took the spotlight early in the second period, particularly Halak, who stopped Sharp on a clean breakaway just past the five-minute mark.
The Blues went back ahead 2-1 with a power-play goal of their own from David Backes, but Jonathan Toews' first goal of the season on a power play at 9:16 tied it at 2-2.
Toews pounced on a loose puck to the right of the net after Kane fanned on an attempt from the left side with Halak down and out.
The Hawks had two 2-on-1s in the first five minutes but couldn't cash in against Halak.
Michal Handzus kept the puck on the left side as he broke in with Hossa, but Halak gloved his shot. Minutes later Hossa kept the puck as he broke free with Sharp, but Halak stopped him.
"That's two games in a row I feel we got robbed of 2 points," Toews told reporters.
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