Tkachuk, Blues hand Canucks fourth home loss of season

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- 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."

The 31-year-old Lalime was at his best during a pair of late
Vancouver power plays, but got some help in the third period when
Henrik Sedin's power-play deflection hit the post and defenseman
Dennis Wideman lifted Brendan Morrison's stick on a partial
breakaway, leaving him with an easy save.

"It's a tough way to go in, he hasn't played in a while," St.
Louis coach Mike Kitchen said. "But he stepped in and he was the
difference. He protected that lead for us and played really well."

Richard Park also scored for the Canucks, who have lost all
three games against St. Louis this season.

The loss -- just its fourth in regulation at home all season --
dropped Vancouver two points behind first-place Calgary in the
Northwest Division.

"We didn't have great games from anybody in our lineup," said
coach Marc Crawford, refusing to blame a recent rash of injuries
that left him with three rookies on defense and without
second-leading goal scorer Anson Carter up front.

Cajanek opened the scoring midway through the first after
Tkachuk drove hard to the net off the wing and dropped a pass back
to him alone in the slot.

Park, playing his first game since missing 13 with a knee
injury, answered for the Canucks, keeping the puck on a 2-on-1
break and firing it between Sanford's legs.

Orszagh restored St. Louis' lead less than 3 minutes later after
Tkachuk drew two defenders behind the net. Rycroft tapped in a
loose puck after a scramble to make it 3-1 with 16.5 seconds to go
in the period.

After Bertuzzi scored to close the gap, the Canucks got a break
when a St. Louis power-play goal was waved off because Orszagh
bumped Alex Auld in the crease.

Tkachuk got that back 5 seconds into a two-man advantage,
getting behind the Canucks' defense off the faceoff and slipping
the puck between Auld's legs.

Tkachuk has two goals and six points in four games since missing
22 with a broken knuckle -- and 10 goals and 21 points in just 14
games all season.

"I've had plenty of games off so I feel pretty fresh out
there," he said.

Game notes
With Vancouver defensemen Steve McCarthy (charley horse)
and Nolan Baumgartner (swollen foot) both injured in the last two
games, Prestin Ryan made his NHL debut and Tomas Mojzis played his
second game. ... Lalime was 6-6-1 with a 2.86 goals-against average
and .906 save percentage with Peoria in the AHL before being
recalled. ... Sanford appeared to hurt himself while making a
scramble save 5 minutes in but played the rest of the period and
stopped 12 of 13 shots. ... The Blues' last three-game winning
streak was from March 25-30, 2004.