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Blues nip Bruins for first win on Stempniak's SO goal

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Lee Stempniak backed up his boss' word.

New St. Louis Blues chairman Dave Checketts had guaranteed in
August that the team would win its home opener.

Stempniak made that happen by scoring late in regulation and
then adding the game winner in the shootout to lift the Blues to a
3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins in their home opener Thursday
night.

The Blues were aware of Checketts' guarantee, but they had to
rally to make it happen, scoring twice in the final 3:57 to send
the game into overtime.

"We were just trying to play with heart and win the game,"
said Blues forward Jamal Mayers, who tied the game 2 at 18:33 of
the third period. "Certainly we were excited to send it to
overtime."

Bruins goalie Tim Thomas held St. Louis scoreless for the first
56 minutes, but the Blues, who were shut out in their last game,
came up with the two goals in a 2:30 span late in the third period.

The outburst caught Bruins coach Dave Lewis by surprise.

"As a group, I thought we played textbook hockey for 55
minutes," Lewis said. "I thought we were in control of the whole
game, except until the end."

Stempniak snapped a scoreless drought of 143:02 for St. Louis
when he converted a centering pass from Bill Guerin at 16:03 to cut
Boston's lead to 2-1.

"It was a great play by Billy," Stempniak said. "I slid it to
Billy, and he tried getting the wraparound. It ended up being
passed right to me, so it was an open net."

Mayers tied it when he swatted home the rebound of a shot by
Keith Tkachuk at 18:33.

The Bruins felt they were their own worst enemy in the last few
minutes.

"A team that's down two goals is going to come at you hard,"
Bruins defenseman Brad Stuart said. "They started forcing things
and we tightened up a bit."

Manny Legace stopped 16 shots during regulation and overtime,
and three of four attempts in the shootout to record his first win
as a member of the Blues.

"I just tried to be patient," Legace said of the shootout.
"These guys are so skilled, they can put it under the crossbar in
a minute. I was just lucky to get a piece of three of them."

Thomas was pulled after 48 minutes in the Bruins' season opener
in Florida when he allowed seven goals on 34 shots in an 8-3 loss.
He made 33 saves Thursday but gave up shootout goals to Tkachuk and
Stempniak, who beat him with a backhander on the Blues' fourth
chance.

"I felt pretty good," Thomas said. "It took a lot of chances
for them to break the seal."

Marc Savard and Patrice Bergeron scored in regulation for the
Bruins, who have dropped three of four on their season-opening,
five-game road trip.

Thursday's game was the first at home under the team's new
ownership, Sports Capital Partners, LLC, which purchased the Blues
during the offseason. Checketts addressed the crowd before the
game.

Boston was the perfect opponent for Checketts' guarantee, as the
Blues have not lost to the Bruins at home since Oct. 17, 1995, a
span of seven games.

Bergeron gave the Bruins the lead 5:55 into the game when Blues
defenseman Jamie Rivers gave up the puck just inside the blue line,
allowing Bergeron to walk in alone. He took his time, faked Legace
out of position and slid it into the open side of the net.

Savard scored off a give-and-go with Stuart at 3:09 of the third
period to make it 2-0.

Game notes
Legace played in his 200th NHL game. ... No. 1 draft choice
Phil Kessel assisted on Bergeron's goal, giving him two points in
four games. ... Thursday's game was one of only three the Bruins
will play outside the Eastern time zone. ... The Bruins conclude
their road trip at the New York Islanders on Saturday night.