DENVER (AP) _ While it wasn't quite what St. Louis' Mike Kitchen wanted in
his NHL head coaching debut, the one-point tie could prove valuable to a team
in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in 25 years.
Dallas Drake and Keith Tkachuk scored second-period goals to offset two
goals by Colorado's Milan Hejduk, and the Blues and Avalanche skated to a 2-2
tie Thursday night.
Blues goaltender Chris Osgood had 25 saves, and Colorado's David Aebischer
``We looked sluggish and nervous in the first period,'' Kitchen said. ``We
didn't have our legs. As the game went on in the second and third periods, I
thought we got stronger and stronger. I liked our effort.''
Kitchen said his team's rally from a 2-0 deficit ``was impressive after the
way we played in the first period and having to kill penalties the whole
Behind the bench, Kitchen said he ``had a lot of nervous energy at the
start. I got settled down as the game went on.''
Added Tkachuk, ``He was excited. This is something he's been waiting for for
a long time. He got his feet wet.''
Late in a scoreless third period, Osgood had back-to-back saves off Joe
Sakic, the second one a glove save that swiped the puck away from the net.
Each team had only one shot in overtime. A minute into overtime, St. Louis
had a goal disallowed when it was ruled Pavol Demitra slapped the puck past
Aebischer with his hand.
``Obviously it's not a win, but it is a step in the right direction,''
Tkachuk said. ``It is a point and it was well needed.''
``It's big,'' he said. ``Now we have points in five of our last six games.
We're on a little roll. We played better tonight than we have the last two
months. Before, we were figuring out ways to lose. Tonight, we fell behind 2-0,
then we tie it up and try to win it.''
The second period featured two fights, one between St. Louis' Matt Walker
and Colorado's Jim Cummins and the other involving St. Louis' Mike Danton and
Colorado's Cody McCormick. The Blues seemed to draw inspiration from Walker's
``Matt Walker really got us going,'' Drake said. ``It got us some emotion
that got us back into the game.''
Colorado is winless in its last six home games (0-3-2-1), scoring just six
``You always want two points,'' Avs coach Tony Granato said. ``But I did see
some good things. It was the start of the way we have to play the last 20
games. We are down the stretch now, and we have to start playing as if the
playoffs are right around the corner.''
Hejduk said his team is ``in a slump, there is no question about that. We
have to stop this bleeding as soon as possible. We need to get the power play
Colorado was 1-for-6 on the power play.
Avalanche forward Alex Tanguay, the NHL's fifth-leading scorer, sustained an
upper-leg injury in the first period and did not return.
In a fast-paced and chippy first period, Colorado outshot St. Louis 11-7 and
led 1-0 on Hejduk's 28th goal.
Hejduk took a cross-ice pass from Sakic and scored from the left circle on a
five-on-three advantage. The goal came a minute after the Blues' Petr Cajanek
and Pascal Rheaume went off at the same time for hooking and boarding,
Hejduk's second goal, from just inside the left circle early in the second
period, gave Colorado a 2-0 lead. But St. Louis rallied late in the period.
Doug Weight passed from behind the net to Drake, who scored from the left
circle for his first goal in 19 games. At 18:20, Tkachuk scored his 26th goal,
beating Aebischer on a rebound of Demitra's shot on a power play.