Final

Series (Game 1 of 1)

St. Louis leads 1-0

Game 1: Sunday, March 7th
Blues5Final
Sabres1

Blues 5

(31-26-2, 73 pts)

Sabres 1

(30-31-1, 67 pts)

6:00 PM ET, March 7, 2004

First Niagara Center, Buffalo, New York

1 2 3 T
STL 1 1 35
BUF 1 0 01

P. Cajanek (Blues - LW): Goals: 2, Assists: 1

P. Demitra (Blues - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

D. Roy (Sabres - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Buffalo stuck at No. 9 in East

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- After digging themselves quite a hole, the St. Louis Blues find themselves back in the thick of the playoff race.

Petr Cajanek had a goal and two assists and Reinhard Divis made 18 saves, leading the Blues to a 5-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday night.

The Blues, who have won two straight after a seven-game winless streak, moved into an eighth-place tie with Los Angeles in the Western Conference. Both teams have 73 points, but the Blues have more victories. The Kings, however, have a game in hand.

"There's nothing righted yet, but this is how we need to play," said Blues center Doug Weight, who had two assists. "We still have a lot of work to do, but if we play like this, we'll be successful."

Dallas Drake, Chris Pronger, Pavol Demitra and Mike Sillinger also scored for the Blues, who have not lost to Buffalo since Oct. 1, 1997, a stretch of 10 games (8-0-2). St. Louis also has not lost in Buffalo in the last seven trips (5-0-2).

Derek Roy scored his third goal in two games for Buffalo, which failed to gain ground on the New York Islanders for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. The Islanders remain six points in front of the Sabres, with both teams having 14 games remaining.

The Blues, who have just six wins in their last 23 games, are three points behind Nashville and Calgary for sixth place in the West.

"We still play a lot of teams that are in front of us, so we still need to work harder and get as many points as we can," Pronger said. "All we can do is do the things necessary for us to win games. We want to leave it up to us to make the playoffs."

The Sabres had seven power plays in the first two periods, converting just one. Overall, they were 1-for-8, while St. Louis was 0-for-3.

"Penalty killing was a big part of the game, definitely," Blues coach Mike Kitchen said. "Some of the calls were questionable, but we were able to kill them off."

After Drake and Roy traded goals in the first period, Pronger gave the Blues a 2-1 lead in the second with a slap shot from the top of the left circle. It was Pronger's 14th goal of the year, tying a career high set in the 1999-2000 season.

The Sabres, who had won their last two games, were throttled in the second period, managing just two shots on Divis.

"The difference in the game was the execution of the special teams," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "On the power play, we had some good zone time but we never attacked the net or got the pucks to the net."

After the game, speculation continued to swirl around Sabres forward Miroslav Satan, who said Saturday that he was expecting to be dealt before Tuesday's trade deadline. Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said Sunday that the team's leading goal scorer has not demanded a trade.

"I don't think he's trying to force things," Regier said. "I think Miro wants to be the best player he can be and help a hockey club, and right now he's helping us."

After the game, Satan spoke with Ruff and Regier about his future in a closed-door meeting.

"I'm still a Buffalo Sabre," Satan said. "It's still up in the air. I don't know what they want to do. You'll have to wait, and I'll have to wait."

Divis made his first start since Feb. 20 against Detroit after starting goaltender Chris Osgood was scratched before the game because of illness. Divis had not won since Jan. 15 against Columbus.

"We're just trying to stay focused game to game," Divis said. "We know what's on the line, and obviously that was a very big game for us."

St. Louis broke the game open with three third-period goals.

Demitra scored his 20th early in the third, taking a pass from Cajanek on a two-on-none break and wristing a shot past Martin Biron, who finished with 20 saves.

Cajanek got his eighth goal with 8:02 remaining, and Sillinger connected with just over a minute to go.

Buffalo played nearly the entire game without its top defenseman, Alexei Zhitnik, who bruised his shoulder just two minutes in after being checked from behind by Drake. The Blues tried to take advantage of Buffalo's short-handed blue line.

"We tried to wear them down and play a lot in their end tonight after Zhitnik went down," said Pronger, who also added an assist.

Game notes


This was the only meeting between the teams this season. ... The win gave St. Louis consecutive road victories for the first time since Dec. 9-12. ... Demitra, who also recorded an assist, has scored at least 20 goals for seven straight seasons.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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