Blues stretch winning streak to nine games

Wednesday, November 6, 2002

MONTREAL -- The St. Louis Blues are getting the most out of their depth.

Pavol Demitra had a goal and two assists as St. Louis extended its NHL-best winning streak to nine games with a 5-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night.

The Blues are undefeated in 10 games since a season-opening loss to Anaheim despite the absence of All-Star defenseman Chris Pronger, goaltender Brent Johnson and left wing Keith Tkachuk.

"The Blues played a fantastic game -- it's no fluke that they've won nine in a row," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. "They skate well, they battle -- that's the team that's impressed me the most this year."

Rookie Eric Boguniecki scored twice, and Martin Rucinsky and Doug Weight also scored for St. Louis, which completed a perfect three-game road trip.

"It's an unbelievable feeling," said Demitra, who has eight points in his last four games. "Our four lines are scoring goals and 20 guys are playing hard every game. It's a great feeling here."

Fred Brathwaite stopped 13 shots for his fifth straight win. The Blues, who outshot Montreal 36-15, have won all five road games this season.

"I don't know if we played that good or if they didn't have a good night," Rucinsky said. "We won the game and that's what counts -- that's the bottom line."

Pronger, the league MVP in 2000, is still recovering from wrist surgery. Johnson is out with a high ankle sprain, and Tkachuk broke his left foot Oct. 30.

Still, St. Louis coach Joel Quenneville had no complaints about his team's effort as the Blues moved within one game of tying the club-record 10-game streak set last Jan. 3-23.

"I like how we're playing," Quenneville said. "We're playing really solid in all areas. Tonight, we played a great game."

Trailing 2-1, the Blues scored a pair of power-play goals in the second to take the lead.

Rucinsky tied it at 8:26 with his third goal in three games since signing as a free agent on Oct. 30, and Demitra scored his second of the season with 4:23 left in the period to put the Blues ahead.

"Even when we're losing, we know we can come back," Demitra said. "Our team, we've got a lot of confidence in everybody. We're just working hard."

Boguniecki, who scored earlier in the second, got his second of the game and sixth of the season on an unassisted effort 13:06 into the third. Weight scored his fifth goal with 1:52 remaining.

Jan Bulis and Saku Koivu scored for Montreal, which was unbeaten in its four previous games.

The Blues held a 12-4 margin in shots in the first, but the Canadiens managed the period's only goal when Bulis drove a shot between Brathwaite's legs with 1:12 left.

"That might have been our best first period of the year," Quenneville said.

Boguniecki scored his fifth goal 2:58 into the second to tie it as he got behind defenseman Patrice Brisebois and tapped Demitra's pass into the crease past goalie Jose Theodore.

Koivu restored Montreal's lead less than 2 minutes later when he beat Brathwaite with a backhand shot from the edge of the crease at 4:57.

The Blues tied it on a power play at 8:26 when Rucinsky swept a shot under Theodore's stick and through his legs.

Demitra put St. Louis up 3-2 with another power-play goal at 15:37 after Scott Mellanby's pass to the slot set him up to shoot into a wide-open right side.

Notes: Weight, who assisted on Demitra's goal, has five goals and 11 assists during an eight-game point streak. ... Blues defenseman Jeff Finley left the game after he was checked heavily into the boards by Bill Lindsay about 5 minutes into the first. ... Canadiens RW Donald Audette was a healthy scratch for the fourth game in a row.

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