Offense picks up in second, sinks Predators

Thursday, October 31, 2002

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues put their latest victory away with a quick burst of offense.

Reed Low, Al MacInnis and Keith Tkachuk scored on successive shots during a four-goal second period as the Blues beat the Nashville Predators 7-0 for their sixth straight win Wednesday night.

"If you don't feel embarrassed at 7-0, my word," Predators defenseman Bill Houlder said. "That was boys against men."

The Blues are 6-0-1 since losing the season opener, despite being forced to use four goalies because of injuries, and tied the Red Wings for first place in the Central Division. Their 6-1-1 overall record is the second-best start in franchise history after the 1997-98 team began 7-1-1. St. Louis scored seven goals for the second time this season.

"We're getting contributions from all the lines and everybody is playing pretty well," defenseman Al MacInnis said. "These are games we have to win and we're just trying to take care of business."

Fred Brathwaite made 19 saves for his 14th career shutout in his second straight start since recovering from a groin injury. Brathwaite's backup job may be in jeopardy when Brent Johnson recovers from a high ankle sprain in two to three weeks and Tom Barrasso is ready to play, perhaps by next weekend.

"No problems with the groin," Brathwaite said. "There weren't too many shots, and we came out with all cylinders."

St. Louis, 5-0-1 against the Predators the last two seasons, outshot Nashville 18-5 in the second period to blow open a scoreless game.

Low scored his second career goal, and first in 112 games, when he beat Mike Dunham off a setup from behind the net by Mike Eastwood at 8:22 of the second. MacInnis got his third of the season on a rush with Cory Stillman and Doug Weight only 33 seconds later, sliding in a soft backhander. Tkachuk made it 3-0 at 10:03 on a deflection in front from Pavol Demitra during a power play.

Demitra, the Blues' leading scorer last season, got his first of the season from the high slot at 17:33. He had five shots in the second period, six overall.

"Finally I got a break," Demitra said. "I had so many chances and he was always there, and it was driving me crazy."

The Blues added three third-period goals. Petr Cajanek emerged from the penalty box to score a shorthanded goal at 11:42 of the third after the Blues killed off a 5-on-3 power play. Shjon Podein and Dallas Drake scored on power plays.

"I thought we had a great second period and we didn't get careless with the lead," coach Joel Quenneville said. "We played solid from start to finish."

Noteworthy

  • Forward Eric Boguniecki, left unprotected by the Blues in the waiver draft earlier this month, parlayed his fast start into a contract extension on Wednesday.

    "He's played well," general manager Larry Pleau said. "I give him all the credit in the world."

    Boguniecki, 27, had three goals and four assists in the first seven games centering Doug Weight and Cory Stillman on the second line with St. Louis, including the game-winner in overtime on Saturday at Calgary.

    The Blues, seeking added scoring depth, signed forward Martin Rucinsky.

    Rucinsky, 31, had 11 goals and 27 assists in 75 games last season for the New York Rangers, but was a 75-point scorer in 1995-96 with the Canadiens and Avalanche.

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