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Blues' losing streak climbs to franchise-record 10

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The St. Louis Blues are in such a miserable
rut, they're scoring into their own net.

Jim Vandermeer scored two goals, one tapped in by a hapless
opponent, to help the Chicago Blackhawks run the Blues'
franchise-record losing streak to 10 with a 4-2 victory on Thursday
night.

"You could say when it goes it goes," said Blues forward Mark
Rycroft, whose first-period gaffe fueled the latest setback. "This
definitely isn't something we needed in the midst of this losing
streak.

"It's not feeling too good right now, I'll tell you that."

Mark Bell also scored for the Blackhawks, who have won two
straight for the first time in 41 games. They're near the bottom of
the NHL with 12 points, five more than the league-worst Blues,
including an overtime victory in St. Louis on Nov. 2.

So coach Trent Yawney had no trouble containing his excitement.

"It's only two wins in a row," Yawney said. "We've got a long
ways to go. They don't want to keep going the way they're going so
it was a good test for our team and our guys answered the bell."

The losing streak for the Blues, who were stripped down before
the season to help team owners sell the franchise, is two games
longer than the previous worst. Their 2-11-3 start is their worst
since 1977-78 when they were 2-10-2. They've been outscored 46-25
since their last victory on Oct. 19 and were unsuccessful on three
5-on-3 power plays, one negated by Scott Young's holding penalty 11
seconds later.

"Obviously, we need to score in that situation," forward Jamal
Mayers said. "The pucks are finding a way not to go in."

Vandermeer's fourth goal of the season, a shot from the point
through traffic midway through the second period, put the
Blackhawks ahead to stay at 3-2. He got credit for an unassisted
goal midway through the first when Rycroft accidentally tapped the
puck past surprised goalie Patrick Lalime while trying to skate it
out of trouble.

"You hope nobody sees that," Vandermeer said. "I was
definitely surprised, but I'll take it, you know."

Rycroft scored one for the Blues, too, and Doug Weight also
scored on a deflection that ended a 2-for-26 power-play slump.

Rycroft's rebound shot at 3:07 of the first period gave the
Blues the game's first goal for the first time in five games, after
they had trailed 2-0 in each of the last four. But Bell tied it 11
seconds later with a wrist shot on a power play. Chicago then took
the lead on Rycroft's mistake at 10:45.

Rycroft noted ruefully that "I had two wide-open nets
tonight."

Game notes
The Blackhawks have won two straight for the first time
since Feb. 14, 2004, when they beat the Bruins for their third
consecutive victory. They finished 2003-04 with four victories in
the last 25 games. ... Chicago's Mark Cullen, recalled from Norfolk
of the AHL on Tuesday, scored his first career goal in the third
period for a 4-2 lead. The goal chased Lalime, who made 26 saves.
"Enough talking," Lalime said. "We've just got to go out and do
it." ... The Blackhawks are 4-0 when scoring four or more goals.