ST. LOUIS -- Left winger Jaden Schwartz had to limp to the St. Louis Blues bench near the end of the first period Tuesday night after being in the wrong place when defenseman Alex Pietrangelo fired a shot toward the net.
It was a much better feeling for Schwartz when he was in the right place in front of the net early in the third period and was able to score a tiebreaking goal in what turned out to be a 4-1 win for the Blues over the Buffalo Sabres.
Schwartz was hit on the left leg by Pietrangelo's shot and had to be helped off the ice with just over a minute to go in the first period. He was able to return in the second period, and just 44 seconds into the final period, found himself alone in front of the net, able to knock in the rebound of a shot by right winger Dmitrij Jaskin.
"I just got it in a bad spot," Schwartz said of being hit by Pietrangelo's shot. "It was a good shot by him to get it through. It was just one of those ones that gets you in a weird spot. I've gotten the puck in a similar spot before so I knew what the feeling was like."
He liked the feeling after scoring the goal better.
"It was a great play by Jask," Schwartz said. "He had a lot of speed and made a good power move and just a fortunate bounce for me. I think anyone could have put that in."
Schwartz's goal was followed 1:35 later by a goal from center Kyle Brodziak, sending the Blues to their ninth consecutive win over the Sabres, breaking a three-game winless streak and allowing them to bounce back from an embarrassing 8-4 loss in Columbus on Saturday night. Left winger Scottie Upshall scored the final Blues goal into an empty net.
Right winger Alexander Steen was not as fortunate as Schwartz. He was knocked hard into the boards by Sabres defenseman Josh Gorges early in the second period and had to leave the game. Steen returned briefly later in the period, but the Blues then pulled him from the game for what coach Ken Hitchock described as precautionary reasons.
Hitchcock said the team would know more about Steen's status on Wednesday.
The Blues' response to the hit on Steen came from left winger Robby Fabbri, one of the smallest players on the team, who initiated a fight with Gorges, only the second fight of his NHL career.
"He's a little guy but he can fight," Hitchcock said. "You don't want to see a guy get hurt but a couple guys were getting whacked around by that guy and he was the first guy to answer the bell. As long as they come out unscathed it's a good bonding situation and he need as much of that as we can."
Gorges was not surprised somebody on the Blues came after him, even though he did not think there was anything wrong with his hit on Steen.
"I didn't feel it was dirty, it wasn't malicious," Gorges said. "Two guys go into the corner and I think at the last second he kind of lost an edge or lost his balance and was leaning backwards so he was in a tough position. Like I said when you hit a player and you catch him good when he's a top player on the other team you expect someone from the other team to come and challenge you. That's what good teams do."
Fabbri had another response earlier in the game, after the Sabres scored a power-play goal from center Sam Reinhart, scoring his own goal on a power play to tie the game.
The Sabres are winless in their last five games (0-3-2) and have scored a combined five goals. They had only one power play goal in 13 chances in their last eight games prior to Tuesday night.
"We're strapped for goals, we're strapped for opportunities to get the goal and it's not for a lack of effort," said Buffalo coach Dan Bylsma. "Guys are throwing it out there and giving everything they've got. We feel like at this time we need to fight to get that kind of odd goal to break us out."
The Blues have had their share of issues already this season as well, including a scoring slump, and Hitchcock does not see the situation changing anytime soon.
"This is so intense right now," Hitchcock said. "Every team is going through this. I talked to four coaches today and it is playoff hockey. Every game is going to be like this. ... That's how strong teams are, that's how equal teams are. Everybody knows that staying over .500 is going to get you a lot of accolades because it's going to be really hard."
NOTES: The Sabres recalled RW Nicholas Baptiste, LW Evan Rodriguez and D Justin Falk from Rochester for Tuesday night's game. For Rodriguez, it was his third game in the NHL, after playing in the final two games last season. ... The Sabres hope C Ryan O'Reilly, who missed his second consecutive game because of a middle-body injury, can play in Thursday night's home game against Tampa Bay. ... Blues RW Nail Yakupov was a healthy scratch for the fourth time in the last six games. ... The Blues could get D Robert Bortuzzo (lower body injury) back as soon as Thursday night's home game against the San Jose Sharks. He has not played since Oct. 27.