Blackhawks push unbeaten streak to seven, beat Blues

Friday, January 3, 2003

ST. LOUIS -- The only thing missing from an otherwise perfect night for the Chicago Blackhawks was another Jocelyn Thibault shutout.

Thibault made 28 saves and blanked the Blues before Cory Stillman scored at 6:35 of the third period of a 4-1 victory Thursday night. Thibault made his 14th straight start in goal, following a 33-save effort in a 2-0 victory over the Kings on Monday, and is 9-2-3 in that stretch.

"It's a typical game after two periods and you're ahead 4-0," Thibault said. "The other team doesn't want to get embarrassed at home.

"You kind of relax a little bit. You don't want to, but I guess it's part of the human spirit when you're up by a couple of goals to take it easy."

Kyle Calder had a goal and an assist as the Blackhawks ran their unbeaten streak to seven games. Chicago has 44 points for third place in the Central Division, three points behind the Blues.

Nathan Dempsey added three assists for the Blackhawks, 5-0-2 in that stretch. Chicago scored on two of its first four shots to chase Blues goalie Brent Johnson, also yanked after two periods of a 5-1 loss at Detroit on Tuesday.

Johnson stormed out of the locker room after the game and did not talk to reporters.

Alexander Karpovtsev, Theo Fleury and Steve Sullivan also had goals for Chicago.

St. Louis has lost two straight after winning four in a row. Down 4-0 early in the third period, coach Joel Quenneville sent out his fourth line of Tyson Nash, Shjon Podein and Steve Dubinsky on a power play as a message to his team.

"It was just an absolute disgrace," Blues forward Dallas Drake said. "We weren't ready from the drop of the puck, and I think that was pretty evident.

"We put our goaltenders in bad positions and unfortunately they're going to bear the brunt of that."

Karpovtsev scored his first goal on a soft wrist shot from the point on a power play at 8:31 of the first. After Fleury scored his fifth from the slot at 11:26 of the first, Johnson splintered his stick against the goal post.

Calder scored on the power play with a one-timer from the right side of the net, beating Fred Brathwaite at 8:45 of the second period. Sullivan knocked in his own rebound on a 3-on-1 rush at 19:46 for a four-goal cushion.

The Blues got off 16 shots in the third period, more than doubling their total from the first two periods. Players drew no consolation from that.

"Even when we were playing better in the third, we were getting beat to pucks and getting outmuscled," center Doug Weight said. "Some games you don't have it, and you have to make sure you're finding a way to get things done."

Noteworthy

Blues D Bryce Salvador missed the game with back pain after being sideswiped in an auto accident Wednesday.

Blues F Reed Low served an automatic one-game suspension after accumulating 53 penalty minutes and three game misconducts in Tuesday's 5-1 loss at Detroit. Shjon Podein, a healthy scratch the previous three games, replaced him in the lineup.

Blackhawks D Boris Mironov requested to be reinstated but remained suspended after leaving the team Dec. 3 and demanding a trade.

The Blackhawks were without F Chris Simon, who was with his wife for the birth of their child.

The Blues' streak of scoring at least one power-play goal ended at 10 games.

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