BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) _ After digging themselves quite a hole, the St. Louis
Blues find themselves back in the thick of the playoff race.
Petr Cajanek had a goal and two assists and Reinhard Divis made 18 saves,
leading the Blues to a 5-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday night.
The Blues, who have won two straight following a seven-game winless streak,
moved into an eighth-place tie with Los Angeles in the Western Conference. Both
teams have 73 points, but the Blues have more victories. The Kings, however,
have a game in hand.
``There's nothing righted yet, but this is how we need to play,'' said Blues
center Doug Weight, who had two assists. ``We still have a lot of work to do,
but if we play like this we'll be successful.''
Dallas Drake, Chris Pronger, Pavol Demitra and Mike Sillinger also scored
for the Blues, who have not lost to Buffalo since Oct. 1, 1997, a stretch of 10
games (8-0-2). St. Louis has also not lost in Buffalo in the last seven trips
Derek Roy scored his third goal in two games for Buffalo, which failed to
gain ground on the New York Islanders for the eighth and final playoff spot in
the East. The Islanders remain six points in front of the Sabres, with both
teams having 14 games remaining.
The Blues, who have just six wins in their last 23 games, are three points
behind both Nashville and Calgary for sixth place in the West.
``We still play a lot of teams that are in front of us, so we still need to
work harder and get as many points as we can,'' Pronger said. ``All we can do
is do the things necessary for us to win games. We want to leave it up to us to
make the playoffs.''
The Sabres had seven power plays in the first two periods, converting just
one. Overall they were 1-for-8, while St. Louis was 0-for-3.
``Penalty killing was a big part of the game, definitely,'' Blues coach Mike
Kitchen said. ``Some of the calls were questionable, but we were able to kill
After Drake and Roy traded goals in the first period, Pronger gave the Blues
a 2-1 lead in the second with a slap shot from the top of the left circle. It
was Pronger's 14th goal of the year, tying a career high set in the 1999-2000
The Sabres, who had won their last two games, were throttled in the second
period, managing just two shots on Divis.
``The difference in the game was the execution of the special teams,''
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. ``On the power play we had some good zone time,
but we never attacked the net or got the pucks to the net.''
Speculation continued to swirl after the game around Sabres forward Miroslav
Satan, who said Saturday he was expecting to be dealt before Tuesday's trade
deadline. Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said Sunday the team's leading
goal scorer has not demanded a trade.
``I don't think he's trying to force things,'' Regier said. ``I think Miro
wants to be the best player he can be and help a hockey club, and right now
he's helping us.''
After the game Satan spoke with Ruff and Regier about his future in a
``I'm still a Buffalo Sabre,'' Satan said. ``It's still up in the air. I
don't know what they want to do. You'll have to wait and I'll have to wait.''
Divis made his first start since Feb. 20 against Detroit after starting
goaltender Chris Osgood was scratched before the game due to an illness. Divis
had not won since Jan. 15 against Columbus.
``We're just trying to stay focused game to game,'' Divis said. ``We know
what's on the line and obviously that was a very big game for us.''
St. Louis broke the game open with three third-period goals.
Demitra scored his 20th early in the third, taking a pass from Cajanek on a
two-on-none break and wristing a shot past Martin Biron, who finished with 20
Cajanek got his eighth goal with 8:02 remaining, and Sillinger connected
with just over a minute to go.
Buffalo played nearly the entire game without its top defenseman, Alexei
Zhitnik, who bruised his shoulder just two minutes in after being checked from
behind by Drake. The Blues tried to take advantage of Buffalo's short-handed
``We tried to wear them down and play a lot in their end tonight after
Zhitnik went down,'' said Pronger, who also added an assist.
Notes: This was the only meeting between the teams this season. ... The win
gave St. Louis consecutive road victories for the first time since Dec. 9-12.
... Demitra, who also recorded an assist, has scored at least 20 goals for
seven straight seasons. ... Buffalo had just two shots on goal in the second