Steen, Blues charge into Florida

( - Alex Steen is a surprising leader atop the NHL's goal- scoring list for this season, given that he scored just eight goals in 40 games last campaign.

Steen and his St. Louis Blues take aim at a third straight win on Friday night when they visit the Florida Panthers.

The 29-year-old Steen has already netted 11 goals through 10 games this season, having logged a goal in all but one of those contests. He scored in his fifth straight game on Tuesday, putting home the game winner with one minute to play in a 3-2 triumph over Winnipeg.

Steen's tally was a backhander from between the circles that dropped between Ondrej Pavelec's pads and over the goal line. The tally was set up on a feed from defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and came just over a minute into a power play created when Jets defenseman Tobias Enstrom took an interference penalty.

"As we walked the line and it comes back, I know I've got a little bit of space. It's a great read by (Bouwmeester) and a great pass. Once I get it, I kind of figured I had a little bit of time. It's nice to see it go in," said Steen, a former first-round pick by Toronto in 2002 whose career high for goals in a season is 24 set in 2009-10 with St. Louis.

Brenden Morrow and Alex Pietrangelo also tallied for the Blues and Jaroslav Halak made 21 saves to improve his club to 3-0-2 since its lone regulation loss of the season on Oct. 15.

After placing forward Magnus Paajarvi on injured reserve after he suffered an upper-body injury versus Nashville last Saturday, Morrow did not make the trip with the Blues due to an upper-body ailment of his own sustained versus the Jets.

St. Louis is also set to visit the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday and Morrow is not expected to join the Blues until Monday in Montreal at the earliest.

However, forward Maxim Lapierre is eligible to play for the Blues after serving a five-game suspension for a hit on San Jose's Dan Boyle on Oct. 15. Lapierre drove Boyle face-first into the glass and the Sharks defenseman had to leave the ice on a stretcher.

Forward Chris Porter also was recalled from the American Hockey League on Thursday.

St. Louis is also taking aim at a fourth consecutive victory over Florida, a streak that includes a 7-0 home win on Oct. 5. Seven different Blues players scored and Halak stopped all 19 shots faced for his club-record 17th shutout with the franchise.

Halak surpassed Hall of Famer Glenn Hall, but is expected to cede tonight's start to Brian Elliott and man the pipes on Saturday versus the Lightning.

Elliott will make his second start of the season and first since a shootout loss to Winnipeg on Oct. 18. He is 3-2-0 with a 3.21 goals against average lifetime versus the Panthers.

He'll hope for similar support from the earlier meeting, when Steen scored and both Morrow and Derek Roy notched a goal and an assist. Jaden Schwartz added a goal and two helpers.

The Panthers have lost three straight -- two of those in a shootout -- and six of their last seven, leaving them 1-2-2 on a six-game homestand that ends tonight. Florida rallied from two goals down to force extra time last Sunday versus Tampa Bay before losing a 4-3 shootout decision.

Nick Bjugstad and Brad Boyes scored third-period goals to dig Florida out of a 3-1 hole. Shawn Matthias also scored and Jacob Markstrom made 25 saves but was bested twice in the shootout.

"We have to play a full 60 minutes," said Boyes, who also scored in the tiebreaker.

With nearly a week off in between games, Tomas Fleischmann should be ready to play tonight after sitting out Sunday's loss due to the flu.

The Panthers will visit the Washington Capitals on Saturday, meaning both Markstrom and Scott Clemmensen are likely to earn starts in the two-day stretch.

Markstrom came on in relief of the currently-injured Tim Thomas earlier this season versus the Blues, giving up two goals on six shots in his first ever game against them.

Clemmensen, who has made just a single relief appearance this season, won his only previous encounter with St. Louis, giving up three goals on 31 shots.