UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) _ The biggest emotion the St. Louis Blues felt after
beating the New York Islanders was relief.
Former Islanders goalie Chris Osgood stopped 39 shots, and Keith Tkachuk
scored his team-leading 27th goal late in the second period to lead the St.
Louis Blues to a 4-2 victory over New York on Saturday night.
The win was the first for the Blues in eight games (1-4-2-1), and gave new
coach Mike Kitchen his first NHL win.
``It was nice,'' Kitchen said. ``It wasn't our best played game, and we were
a bit nervous in the third period, but we got the win.''
Pavol Demitra, Mark Rycroft and Petr Cajanek also scored for the Blues, who
are fighting to stay in contention for a Western Conference playoff spot. St.
Louis has reached the postseason 24 straight years.
Newcomer Mike Sillinger chipped in with a pair of assists, including one on
Tkachuk's game winner.
``The situation in Phoenix was that we were 14 points out of the playoffs,''
Sillinger said. ``We're not there yet here, but we're close, and all I want is
the chance to make March interesting.''
Osgood, traded away by the Islanders last March, improved to 23-22-7 on the
season. Jason Blake and Mark Parrish scored for the Islanders, who have one win
in seven games (1-3-2-1) and are trying to hold off Buffalo for the final
playoff spot in the East.
``It's great to come back here,'' Osgood said.
Rick DiPietro stopped 14 shots for the Islanders, just six points ahead of
New York dominated most of the scoreless first period, but couldn't beat
Osgood with any of its 12 shots.
The Blues grabbed a 1-0 lead when Demitra, in the high slot, one-timed a
pass from Tkachuk past DiPietro at 6:25 of the second period.
Later in the period, Osgood foiled Dave Scatchard's break-in with a diving
poke check. Just over a minute later, St. Louis took a 2-0 lead when Rycroft
found a loose puck in a goal-mouth scramble and lifted it over DiPietro.
Rycroft's ninth goal came at 9:33.
Blake got New York within 2-1 at 11:59 when he sent a 45-foot backhand shot
past Osgood. Parrish tied it with 33.9 seconds left when he buried a rebound of
Shawn Bates' shot.
Tkachuk scored 14 seconds later when he tapped Sllinger's cross-ice pass
``That was just a great pass,'' Tkachuk said. ``He put it right on my tape.
It was a good heads-up play.''
Islanders coach Steve Stirling said a lapse contributed to the goal.
``It was a huge mistake,'' Stirling said. ``It cost us the game. We let down
and made three glaring defensive mistakes. We gave them three goals.''
Despite outshooting the Blues 14-3 in the third period, the Islanders
couldn't get the tying goal.
Cajanek scored an empty-netter with 5.1 seconds left.
``We played well, but we didn't play desperate enough,'' Parrish said.
``We're still in the driver's seat. It's our spot to lose.''