Vladimir Tarasenko had the third regular-season hat trick of his career and added an assist to lead the Blues past Tampa Bay Thursday night at Scottrade Center. (Bill Greenblatt/UPI)

By Rob Rains

Anytime Vladimir Tarasenko scores a couple of early goals, as he did Thursday night, the excitement starts to build on the Blues’ bench.

“We were kind of all licking our chops to see what he was going to do,” said Kevin Shattenkirk. “He still had 50 minutes to work with. He’s one of those guys where loose change seems to find him and he’s able to capitalize on a lot of his chances.”

Tarasenko followed up those two early goals by adding an assist before completing the third regular-season hat trick of his career in the third period, leading the Blues to a 5-4 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning at Scottrade Center.

Shattenkirk also had a four-point game for the Blues, scoring twice and earning two assists, and Alexander Steen marked his return to the lineup with three assists as the Blues extended their home winning streak to six consecutive games. They are 9-0-2 in their last 11 games at Scottrade Center.

Tarasenko’s final goal of the night, his 13th of the season, came after the Lightning had cut the Blues’ lead to 4-3 at 8:11 of the final period. It was his first regular-season hat trick since Dec. 16, 2014. His initial shot hit the post but then deflected into the net off the skate of goalie Ben Bishop.

As is his custom, Tarasenko tried to deflect the credit for his goals to his teammates.

“Thanks for the guys; they created a lot of good chances for me,” Tarasenko said. “They helped me a lot.”

Tarasenko scored an unassisted goal just 1:39 into the game, before scoring a power-play goal off a pass from Steen at 9:37 of the first period. It was the first of three power-play goals for the Blues, the other two coming from Shattenkirk.

After going through a scoring slump in the early weeks of the season, the Blues have now scored three or more goals in their last nine games.

“It wasn't like this when the season started.” Tarasenko said. “We had a tough time from you guys (the media) and it was so many bad words about our offense. We just keep working and like I said, we just fight for each other every game and try to stay on our program. The most important thing is we believe in each other. We believe in our game.”

Unlike Tarasenko, Shattenkirk has never completed a hat trick in his NHL career. With the Tampa Bay net empty in the closing minutes after Bishop was pulled in favor of an extra attacker, the thought did cross Shattenkirk’s mind.

“I thought maybe I should stay out for the last 15 seconds and get selfish with it,” he said. “I’m never really thinking hat trick. He (Tarasenko) is the guy who’s thinking hat trick.”

Shattenkirk’s second goal, 1:44 into the second period, chased Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, who allowed the four goals on 10 shots as the Blues built a 4-1 lead. Bishop came off the bench to replace him.

Goals by Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov, his 12th of the season, pulled the Lightning back within 4-3 before Tarasenko’s third goal. Cedric Paquette’s second goal of the game again made it a one-goal game but goalie Jake Allen was able to protect that lead for the final eight minutes.

Despite their five goals, neither David Perron or Jaden Schwartz registered a point for the Blues, ending their respective scoring streaks. Perron had at least one goal or an assist in eight consecutive games, the longest streak of his career and the longest active streak in the NHL. Schwartz had a goal or an assist in the last seven games.

The Blues have won six consecutive games against the Lightning, whose last win in St. Louis came in 2009.

NOTES: The Lightning started Vasilevskiy in goal instead of Bishop, a St. Louis native and former Blue. Despite allowing only one goal, Bishop was charged with the loss, which dropped his career record as a visitor in his hometown to 0-3-1 … Paul Stastny played in his 700th career game. ... The Blues host Winnipeg on Saturday. The game begins at 6 p.m., an hour earlier than normal.


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