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Red Wings seven points ahead of Blues in Central

3/22/2003

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Losing a two-goal advantage didn't cause the
Detroit Red Wings to lose their cool. Instead, Detroit responded to
maintain its mastery over the St. Louis Blues.

Nicklas Lidstrom scored the go-ahead goal in the third period
and Curtis Joseph stopped 24 shots as the Red Wings won their sixth
straight, 4-2 on Saturday.

"Overall, we didn't really panic or anything, even when they
tied up the game," Lidstrom said. "We still wanted to play our
game and that's what we did."

The win moved the first-place Red Wings seven points ahead of
the second-place Blues in the Central Division. Each team has eight
games to play.

The Red Wings have dominated the series of late, going 4-0
against the Blues this season. St. Louis has just two victories in
its previous 14 games against Detroit.

"We've got to find a way to beat this team," Blues center Doug
Weight said. "We had a good effort in this game, but we just came
up short."

Detroit has won 17 of its last 19 games (17-1-0-1). The loss
snapped a six-game home-ice winning streak for the Blues.

Lidstrom scored the winner at 11:28 of the third period. Igor
Larionov passed to Lidstrom, who was all alone on top of the right
faceoff circle. Lidstrom slapped the puck by goaltender Chris
Osgood.

"It was just a great play by Igor," Lidstrom said. "He got
the puck down low and no one was really covering me. I just went
towards the net and Iggy found me, so it was a great pass by
Iggy."

Steve Yzerman added an empty-net goal in the final minute.

"It was probably as close to a playoff game as we've played in
a long time," Red Wings coach Dave Lewis said. "It was physical,
intense and emotional. After they tied it, I thought we actually
attacked even a little better after that."

The Blues came back from a 2-0 deficit with two goals in the
third period. Doug Weight scored on a power play at 1:53. Eric
Boguniecki got his 20th goal to even the game less than four
minutes later. Boguniecki grabbed a loose puck at St. Louis' blue
line, skated in and beat Joseph with a wrist shot from the top of
the slot.

"They came back in the third and I was hoping for them not to
come back and tie the game," Joseph said. "That was tough, but
fortunately Nick scored a big goal for us."

Blues defenseman Al MacInnis said he thought the momentum
switched after St. Louis tied the game.

"We were playing our game in the third period," MacInnis said.
"We were not back on our heels. We were sticking with our game
plan."

Detroit scored two goals in the first period. Henrik Zetterberg
connected on a power play. His first shot hit the post, but he got
the rebound, spun, and his shot hit Blues defenseman Alexander
Khavanov.

The puck bounced off Khavanov toward Osgood and went in after
hitting Osgood's skate.

Later in the period, Mathieu Schneider scored on a slap shot
from the top of the left faceoff circle with .1 seconds remaining.

"It's frustrating. We gave them the first two on a platter,"
Blues coach Joel Quenneville said. "The second one was a tough one
to give up. You can't give them easy goals. They find ways to
score, so you can't give them anything.

"We did a good job to come back and get in the game. We had to
play our best to be effective and we didn't play our best."

Game notes
Detroit RW Brett Hull has 13 goals in his last 19 games and
needs five goals to move into a fourth-place tie with Phil Esposito
(717). ... RW Valeri Bure did not play for the Blues, who dealt for
him March 11. Bure injured his knee Feb. 15 and is expected to be
out for up to two more weeks. ... Barret Jackman is the only rookie
in the league playing nearly 20 minutes a game. He is second among
rookies with a plus-19.

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