Sans Gretzky, Coyotes fall to Blues

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Mike Sillinger had a pair of power-play goals, and Jamal Mayers scored the game-winner in the third period to help the St. Louis Blues rally for a 5-4 victory over the slumping Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday night.

The loss was the fourth straight for Phoenix, the second since coach Wayne Gretzky took a leave of absence. Gretzky left to be with his ailing mother, who died Monday night in Brantford, Ontario.

Scott Young assisted on both of Sillinger's scores and had a power-play goal, and Aaron Downey had a tie-breaking goal in the third period as the Blues, with the worst record in the NHL, snapped a two-game skid.

St. Louis rookie Jason Bacashihua, who made his NHL debut in relief on Friday, made 33 saves to record his initial win after losing Saturday in his first start. Bacashihua was called up after the Blues waived Patrick Lalime on Dec. 12.

Downey gave the Blues a 4-3 lead when he deflected a long slap shot by Eric Brewer past Curtis Joseph 3:16 into the final period, and Mayers created a two-goal cushion with 9:32 left by driving a rebound in behind Joseph on his second swat at the puck.

Assistant coach Rick Tocchet, running the team in Gretzky's absence, pulled Joseph, who had only eight saves, in favor of Brian Boucher after Mayers' goal. But when St. Louis' Dale Weight was penalized for roughing, Tocchet pulled Boucher as well with 4:34 to play, and the Coyotes responded to a 6-on-4 advantage with Mike Comrie's second goal with 3:58 left.

Phoenix's Jamie Lundmark got the puck over the goal line with 2:53 to play, but the play was blown dead, and Bacashihua was staunch in the final minutes.

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