Blues find unlikely victory in Vancouver

Friday, February 10, 2006

St. Louis ended its 10-game road losing sreak with a 4-2 win.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The St. Louis Blues haven't given up on this season.

Neither has their embattled goalie, Patrick Lalime.

Keith Tkachuk had a goal and two assists and Lalime made 19 saves in his NHL return Wednesday night, backstopping St. Louis to a surprising 4-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks.

"We're not going to quit," Tkachuk said. "We're going to keep going after everybody."

The Blues are last in the Western Conference, and they traded away top scorers Doug Weight and Mike Sillinger early last week. Plus, the odds appeared stacked against them in this one.

St. Louis, which entered with the league's third-worst road record, was playing the NHL's fifth-best team on home ice. The Blues had tied a franchise record with 10 straight road losses and the Canucks had won six in a row at home, where they hadn't lost to St. Louis in more than five years.

But Petr Cajanek, Vladimir Orszagh and Mark Rycroft gave the Blues a 3-1 first-period lead, and Tkachuk sealed the win with a power-play goal in the third, giving St. Louis its first victory away from home since Dec. 28 and its first three-game winning streak of the season.

"We lost two great players and two great guys, but right now it seems like a lot of teams are not ready for us and looking past us and we seem to be coming out of a lot of first periods with the lead," Tkachuk said.

The Blues also came out of this first period without their starting goalie after Curtis Sanford had back spasms early in the period. That opened the door for Lalime to start the second -- his first NHL action since being demoted to the AHL after struggling earlier this season.

Lalime wasn't credited with the win, but he was just happy to be back in the NHL.

"You don't choose how or when you're going to go in, but I was just looking for a chance to get back in," he said. "I was ready for any circumstance. I just wanted to get in there and when that happens, you jump on it."

Lalime, who won 39 games for the Ottawa Senators just two seasons ago, was sent to the minors despite a $2.4 million salary after struggling to a 3-11 record and an NHL-worst .866 save percentage in St. Louis early this season. But he was solid in his return, allowing only Todd Bertuzzi's power-play goal on a jam play in tight.

"When you're not on top of your game, sometimes confidence is a big factor and as a goalie you can't really hide it," said Lalime, who was recalled last Wednesday. "I went down there and played some pretty good games and I'm just happy to be back."

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