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St. Louis rallies with three goals in third

3/14/2004

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Two newcomers from Phoenix are helping the St. Louis Blues stay in the playoff hunt.

Mike Sillinger scored two goals, and Brian Savage added another as the Blues rallied to earn a 5-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night.

The Blues acquired Sillinger and Savage from the Phoenix Coyotes last week in separate deals. In five games, Sillinger has three
goals and two assists.

"It's my job," 32-year-old Sillinger said. "It's like a
second life for me. It's been a tough year for me. I had hernia
surgery at the start of the year. I enjoyed it at Phoenix, but
coming here and getting a chance for the playoffs, especially at my
age, it's all a player can ask for."

Savage also is pleased to be on a playoff contender.

"We couldn't let these two points slip away," Savage said.
"It was desperate times in the third period there, and we came
through."

After the Blues took a 2-0 lead on goals by Sillinger and
Alexander Khavanov, the Blue Jackets came back to take the lead
when Trevor Letowski scored twice and Alexander Svitov added a
goal.

St. Louis responded with three goals in the third period.

"They didn't play desperate until the third period when it was
3-2," Columbus coach Gerard Gallant said. "I thought they played
like a team that was too nervous to make some mistakes. They're a
good hockey team, don't get me wrong. In the first two periods, I
thought they were playing laid back and didn't want to make
mistakes."

Keith Tkachuk's winner came when Columbus' Todd Marchant was off
for tripping. After Petr Cajanek muffed a shot, Tkachuk got the
puck and scored at 12:37. Sillinger scored his second of the game
at 16:36 on a two-on-one break.

The Blues tied it at 3 when Savage poked in a rebound of Doug Weight's shot at 6:41.

"In the first two periods, we were really, you know, awful,"
Tkachuk said. "For a big game like this at this time of the year,
you can't just turn it on and expect to go. It has to be there.

"We were behind the eight-ball there for a while. We had to
fight through it."

Letowski expected the Blues' comeback.

"We knew they were going to come out hard in the third,"
Letowski said. "It's only natural. They're fighting for their
lives."

The Blue Jackets took the lead at 2:47. Nikolai Zherdev flung
the puck in from the top of slot toward the net, and Letowski
deflected the shot in off the right post.

The Blues outshot Columbus 17-6 in the third period and 32-21
for the game.

St. Louis, which has reached the playoffs 24 consecutive years,
moved one point ahead of Los Angeles in the race for eighth place
in the Western Conference. The Blues' postseason streak is the
longest current run in professional sports.

Columbus, an NHL-worst 5-23-4-2 on the road, has dropped five
straight overall.

The Blues, 4-0-2 in their last six, went 5-1 this season against
Columbus. St. Louis is 9-1-1 at home versus the Blue Jackets.

St. Louis led 1-0 after the first period on Sillinger's
short-handed goal, the Blues' first since Jan. 1.

Blue Jackets goalie Fred Brathwaite was hit by a long shot from
Bryce Salvador. Brathwaite finished the first period but was then
replaced by Marc Denis because of a groin injury. Brathwaite is day-to-day.

St. Louis went ahead 2-0 at 4:46 of the second period on
Khavanov's power-play goal, the first shot against Denis.

"We kind of fell asleep after that and turned the puck over too
much," Blues forward Dallas Drake said.

Game notes
Morning skates are optional for the Blues in an attempt to
save the team's energy for the rest of the season. ... Blues D
Murray Baron returned after missing two games because of the flu.