<
>

Blues rally, offset Hejduk's pair

2/27/2004

DENVER (AP) -- While it wasn't quite what St. Louis' Mike Kitchen
wanted in his NHL head coaching debut, the one-point tie could
prove valuable to a team in danger of missing the playoffs for the
first time in 25 years.

Dallas Drake and Keith Tkachuk scored second-period goals to
offset two goals by Colorado's Milan Hejduk, and the Blues and
Avalanche skated to a 2-2 tie Thursday night.

Blues goaltender Chris Osgood had 25 saves, and Colorado's David
Aebischer had 19.

"We looked sluggish and nervous in the first period," Kitchen
said. "We didn't have our legs. As the game went on in the second
and third periods, I thought we got stronger and stronger. I liked
our effort."

Kitchen said his team's rally from a 2-0 deficit "was
impressive after the way we played in the first period and having
to kill penalties the whole time."

Behind the bench, Kitchen said he "had a lot of nervous energy
at the start. I got settled down as the game went on."

Added Tkachuk, "He was excited. This is something he's been
waiting for for a long time. He got his feet wet."

Late in a scoreless third period, Osgood had back-to-back saves
off Joe Sakic, the second one a glove save that swiped the puck
away from the net.

Each team had only one shot in overtime. A minute into overtime,
St. Louis had a goal disallowed when it was ruled Pavol Demitra
slapped the puck past Aebischer with his hand.

"Obviously it's not a win, but it is a step in the right
direction," Tkachuk said. "It is a point and it was well
needed."

Osgood agreed.

"It's big," he said. "Now we have points in five of our last
six games. We're on a little roll. We played better tonight than we
have the last two months. Before, we were figuring out ways to
lose. Tonight, we fell behind 2-0, then we tie it up and try to win
it."

The second period featured two fights, one between St. Louis'
Matt Walker and Colorado's Jim Cummins and the other involving St.
Louis' Mike Danton and Colorado's Cody McCormick. The Blues seemed
to draw inspiration from Walker's fight.

"Matt Walker really got us going," Drake said. "It got us
some emotion that got us back into the game."

Colorado is winless in its last six home games (0-3-2-1),
scoring just six goals.

"You always want two points," Avs coach Tony Granato said.
"But I did see some good things. It was the start of the way we
have to play the last 20 games. We are down the stretch now, and we
have to start playing as if the playoffs are right around the
corner."

Hejduk said his team is "in a slump, there is no question about
that. We have to stop this bleeding as soon as possible. We need to
get the power play going."

Colorado was 1-for-6 on the power play.

Avalanche forward Alex Tanguay, the NHL's fifth-leading scorer,
sustained an upper-leg injury in the first period and did not
return.

In a fast-paced and chippy first period, Colorado outshot St.
Louis 11-7 and led 1-0 on Hejduk's 28th goal.

Hejduk took a cross-ice pass from Sakic and scored from the left
circle on a five-on-three advantage. The goal came a minute after
the Blues' Petr Cajanek and Pascal Rheaume went off at the same
time for hooking and boarding, respectively.

Hejduk's second goal, from just inside the left circle early in
the second period, gave Colorado a 2-0 lead. But St. Louis rallied
late in the period.

Doug Weight passed from behind the net to Drake, who scored from
the left circle for his first goal in 19 games. At 18:20, Tkachuk
scored his 26th goal, beating Aebischer on a rebound of Demitra's
shot on a power play.

Game notes
Colorado defenseman Bob Boughner underwent arthroscopic
knee surgery Thursday and is expected to miss the next three to
four weeks. ... Avs center Peter Forsberg missed his fifth straight
game because of a groin injury. ... It was the third game of St.
Louis' season-long five-game road trip.