Demitra Does In The Rangers

Blues' Jamal Mayers, center, shoots wide as Rangers' Brad Brown, left, and goalie Mike Richter defend. AP

The talk about Pavol Demitra's slow start can certainly stop now.

Demitra, St. Louis' leading scorer last season, tied career highs with three goals and five points Wednesday night as the Blues stretched their unbeaten streak to 10 games with a 6-3 victory over the New York Rangers.

The right wing, who missed last season's final eight games and the playoffs because of a concussion, had only five goals and three assists in the first 15 games this season raising questions whether he was still being affected.

But Demitra has rebounded to register six goals and eight assists in a five-game point streak, and 12 goals and 13 assists in 15 games.

"I never have a great start," Demitra said. "Right now, I got a little lucky. Everything I touch is going in. I'm just so happy. My teammates are giving me great passes for a lot of goals."

He isn't too familiar with such a good streak either.

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  • "No, I never got a run like that," Demitra said. "Winning games is the most important. I don't really care if I don't score any goals. If I'm going to win the Cup, it doesn't matter to me."

    Craig Conroy, Dallas Drake and Michal Handzus also scored for the Blues. Petr Nedved wrecked Roman Turek's bid for his fifth shutout of the season when he scored with 8:38 remaining.

    The Rangers rallied late as Michal Grosek and Mark Messier scored 48 econds apart to close to 4-3. But Handzus got his sixth goal 11 seconds later, on a deflection off a Rangers defenseman's skate at 17:13, to seal the victory.

    "That was really too bad," Messier said. "We still had 2 1/2 minutes there with some good momentum going. We got a bad break off a skate. It would have been nice to give ourselves a chance."

    Only a home tie against Detroit on Saturday kept St. Louis from having a 10-game winning streak. The eight straight victories set a team record. Last season, however, the Blues turned the NHL's top record into a first-round playoff defeat.

    "I think what happened last year in the playoffs was something unbelievable," said Turek, who made 20 saves. "We learned something from last year's playoffs. I think it's early talking about the playoffs now, but everyone will be ready."

    St. Louis (22-4-4), which took over the NHL point lead from Colorado, shut down the high-scoring Rangers. New York entered with the league's top power-play unit but went 0-for-6 with the man-advantage against the NHL's top penalty killers.

    The Blues, who have allowed a league-low 59 goals, have thwarted 133 of 147 (90.5 percent) short-handed situations. In contrast, the Rangers have given up 56 goals in the third period alone.

    New York was given three power plays in the first nine minutes of the opening period, but managed only three shots with the advantage.

    "I thought that was the key to the game," Blues coach Joel Quenneville said. "Killing the four power plays down eight minutes in the first and coming out with a 2-0 lead."

    Demitra was able to convert 20 seconds into the Blues' first power play at 14:50 on St. Louis' fifth shot.

    "I think we were a little unsure tonight against a team with a record like that," Messier said. "When things didn't go well early and then they came back and got that goal, I think we sank for a few minutes and we were a little stunned."

    Just 1:04 after the Rangers' fourth power play of the period, Demitra scored his 16th goal of the season. He completed his second career hat trick with an empty-net goal in the final minute.

    "Pavol has been really coming on lately and he is a dangerous player," Quenneville said. "He is in form right now."

    Conroy scored his fifth goal 2:18 into the second period and Drake added his sixth to make it 4-0 at 6:58 of the third.

    Notes

  • St. Louis RW Reed Low picked up his league-leading 16th fighting major, when he took on Rangers D Brad Brown. Low was bleeding near his left eye as he entered the penalty box and did not play the rest of the game.
  • Rangers D Rich Pilon did not return after he was shaken up from a first-period hit.
  • The Blues' best unbeaten streak is 12 games (5-0-7) from Nov. 10-Dec. 8, 1968.
  • St. Louis has 48 points, one more than Colorado in three fewer games.
  • The Rangers lead te league with 122 goals scored and 129 allowed.
  • Theo Fleury extended his point streak to 10 games with an assist on Grosek's goal.
  • Demitra also had a hat trick Feb. 12 and five points on Nov. 10, 1998.


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