Stempniak leaves Blackhawks singing the Blues

CHICAGO (AP) -- Lee Stempniak had extended playing time last
season with the struggling St. Louis Blues. The experience is
paying off this season.

Stempniak scored twice and assisted on Petr Cajanek's
tiebreaking goal early in the third period to help St. Louis beat
the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 Saturday night.

As a rookie, Stempniak got ample ice time in 57 games with the
Blues, who finished with the NHL's worst record for the first time
in team history.

The forward posted his first three-point game in the NHL on
Saturday and improved his offensive totals to five goals and three
assists in eight games.

"You want to be contributing when the team wins and right now,
I happen to be contributing -- scoring goals getting a couple of
points" Stempniak said. "If you don't, you have to come in, play
physical, play well defensively and just make sure you're a factor
in every game.

"I definitely feel so much more comfortable this year," he
added. "I played a lot for a rookie last year, especially after
the trade deadline and we lost a couple of guys. All the
experiences I had last year are helping me this year."

Cajanek converted a rebound of Stempniak's shot from the slot
2:57 into the third to snap a 3-3 tie.

"I was lucky in the right spot at the right time," Cajanek
said. "We shot it high and I was in a good spot there."

Bill Guerin also scored for the Blues, rallied after falling
behind 2-0 early in the first period. After Chicago scored goals 13
seconds apart to take the lead, St. Louis coach Mike Kitchen called
a timeout.

"He settled us down a bit." Stempniak said. "He just told us
it's going to be how we respond. Those two goals are up there no
matter what. We can either pack it in or fight through the

Radim Vrbata and Michal Handzus each had a goal and an assist
for Chicago, which played without right wing Martin Havlat. Havlat,
who entered Saturday as the NHL's scoring leader with 13 points,
will miss two to three weeks after spraining his right ankle Friday
night at Dallas.

"Obviously he's a world-class player and it's not going to be
easy to replace him" Blackhawks coach Trent Yawney said. "The
fortunate thing about a good team is that everyone can

Rene Bourque also scored for the Blackhawks, who lost for the
second straight night after taking a two-goal lead.

"We didn't close them out the way we should have and it cost
us," said Patrick Sharp, who set up Bourque's goal.

"Welcome to the new NHL," Yawney added. "You've got to dig a
little deeper and get a little simpler."

St. Louis' Curtis Sanford made 24 saves, and Chicago's Nikolai
Khabibulin stopped 25 shots.

Bourque and Vrbata scored 13 seconds apart early in the first
period to give the Blackhawks a 2-0 lead at 6:41.

Stempniak cut it to 2-1 with 7:25 left in the first, and his
power-play goal 16 seconds into the second tied the score.

Guerin gave St. Louis a 3-2 lead at 10:01 of the period,
knocking in a rebound of Doug Weight's shot from the point after
Khabibulin failed to cover up the puck.

Handzus' power-play goal -- a goalmouth deflection of Adrian
Aucoin's drive from the left point -- with 5:10 left in the second
tied it at 3.

Game notes
The Blackhawks recalled F Brandon Bochenski and D Danny
Richmond from Norfolk of the AHL. Both played against the Blues on
Saturday, with Bochenski taking Havlat's place on a line with
Vrbata and Michal Handzus. ... Havlat, acquired from Ottawa with F
Bryan Smolinski in July, missed 58 games last season with the
Senators because of a shoulder injury. ... D Jassen Cullimore and
Fs Matt Keith and Denis Arkhipov were Chicago's healthy scratches
Saturday. ... St. Louis D Jay McKee missed the game because of a
fractured bone in his right hand. He was hurt Friday night against